Namibia: Rural Residents Face Challenges Accessing Emergency Grant

21 April 2020

While many Namibian citizens flock to ATMs countrywide to withdraw their Emergency Income Grant of N$750, it is a far-fetched dream for some residents in the Kavango West region as they experience network problem and language barrier.

The relief package offered by the government is aimed to ease the financial challenges brought about by the countrywide lockdown due to the coronavirus, but some in Kavango West say they might be left out due to various challenges.

Clementine Mbuna from Nkambe village in the Tondoro constituency complained that, apart from network being the main challenge for most people to claim the N$750 grant,

Mbuna added that access to information is another challenge, saying they rely heavily on radio, but during this harvest period, they are out of their houses most of the time to work in their fields or look after cattle and people may miss important information, such as the one on the grant payment.

"It sounds like a good initiative if we are getting money, but how will we apply with our network problems here? And we also have a language barrier, we do not have anyone in our household that will be able to read and understand the application, maybe we will approach our neighbours to assist if they know how," she said.

She further stressed that they will only benefit partially from the grant as a portion of the money will be used on transport to get to nearest ATM which is in Nkurenkuru and it cost them N$200 or more on transport alone.

"Even if we get the money, only about N$500 will go towards groceries, the rest will be spent on transport to and from Nkurenkuru to withdraw the money because we stay far from the town," Mbuna said.

Gabriel Adolf Kapumburu, the headman of the Calikawo village in the same constituency highlighted that access to information is a challenge for most people as not everyone owns a radio at their homestead and there is no network.

He further expressed his concern that some people might not benefit from the grant, as they do not have any form of national documents despite being born and raised in the village especially the san people.

"I think they should look at other alternatives on how to assist us in a different way, because if we rely only on applying through cellphones, many here will be left out. Why can they not get the people's details and disburse the funds as they do with the old age pension so that it reaches everyone? This can help ensure all our people get the money," he said.

Ihemba Mpasi, expressed that there is challenge in disseminating correct information as some of the information is disseminated through informal channels around the village.

"We did not hear about that at all, I'm only hearing it from you now. The only thing I heard was that there are people coming to the community to write names of those with shebeens and they are the ones who will be assisted with money from government, but I'm not aware that unemployed people are also getting," Mpasi said.

Andreas Haingura from Calikawo village who was retrenched back in 2012 is hoping to benefit from the grant but however expressed that it will be a challenge as the nearest network tower is situated about 40km from their village. He said that the implementation brought about makes it difficult for some people to benefit.

"How can they implement such a process while they know some communities do not have network and there is lack of access to information. The police came all the way to inform us that the shebeens should not operate due to the coronavirus but did not make an effort to inform us about the N$750 grant," he said.

He further said that the government should seek other measures that can curb the challenges that they experience to ensure that they all benefit from the grant.

"If they really cared about us, they could have implemented other means that will ensure that we all benefit from the grant such as distributing through the councillor's office as they do with other grants," Haingura said.

The villagers also expressed concerns that other challenges may arise, saying chances are high that those assisting them will defraud some people and that there are a lot misconceptions spread around about the grant, with some believing that they will be infected by the virus if they apply for the grant.

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