Namibia: Living From Hand to Mouth - Residents' Daily Struggle Against Poverty

12 December 2019

FROM a distance, a shack made out of discarded zinc sheets and other recycled materials, which is located on the edge of a riverbed, appears to be a work of art.

Sadly, the artistic exterior hides the real misery inside - the lives of its two inhabitants who literally survive from hand to mouth, as poverty takes its toll on them.

This is the reality of Kelly #Nuseb (62) and Isak !Goaseb (42), residents of the Donkerhoek informal settlement at Khorixas.

#Nuseb said he does not receive the government pension grant, because he lost his old South African identity document and birth certificate a few years ago.

"I lost my documents in the Tsumeb area were I was working as a livestock herder," the visibly frail man narrated.

For years, #Nuseb worked as a herdsman in Tsumeb, but he moved to Khorixas about three months ago where his mother also resides.

"I do odd jobs and get paid in food or a meagre N$20. That is my life. Life is hard, so one has to make a plan to eat something," #Nuseb noted.

The 62-year-old shows this reporter a pot which he said was last used to cook a few weeks ago. That, according to him, is how limited and sporadic he gets any real food to cook in it. !Goaseb, who lives in a partition within the same shack, said he had lost all interest in voting, as the change they desperately need - that of escaping the ravishing poverty they encounter - hardly comes.

Inside the room, a mattress is spread on a damp floor as it had rained the day before. The floor is not made of concrete, but sand that has been neatly raked for the purpose. As the wind blows into the makeshift structure, one can see the outside from inside the structure as some 'walls' are just old bed linen.

The 42-year-old said he too survives from doing odd jobs.

"I do odd jobs like Isak. Some people will pay you in maize meal but what can you do? You grab the opportunity and think about where the next meal will come from. This can be after several days," he said.

!Goaseb is a father of two and his children live in Kamanjab with relatives.

"When it rains, I sleep at other people's houses. Like now, I am looking after someone's house as they went to their farm for the holidays," !Goaseb said.

The duo also don't have a water card, so they ask for water from others. Khorixas constituency councillor Elias /Aro Xoagub said his office was not aware of the two residents' case, but advised them to get in touch with his office.

"Sometimes, as a constituency councillor I might not be aware of issues as people on the ground might not alert me about them, but once I hear of the matter I see how best to attend to it," Xoagub said.

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