Voting on empty bellies

13 November 2019 | Columns

Three children have died from malnutrition at Amarika in the Omusati Region during the past three months, while an investigation by Namibian Sun has found that 1 565 children are malnourished in the region alone.

The deaths of three elderly people in the region are also suspected to be due to malnutrition.

This is the sad state of affairs, as food insecurity impacts on thousands of households across the country, fuelled by ongoing drought conditions and a lethargic response to the crisis.

A report compiled by the office of the regional health director between January and September this year shows that 397 children in Omusati are classified as stunted, 360 are suffering from wasting and 808 others are underweight.

This is obviously only the tip of the iceberg, as many more children across the nation are suffering.

Because of the drought, many households depend on food aid distributed by regional councils, amid claims that the food is not enough. Mothers, fathers and caretakers have also been urged to take children to the nearest health facilities for growth monitoring and when they are sick.

While political campaigns heat up ahead of the 27 November general election, ordinary Namibians are indeed facing immense challenges with food. This has been exacerbated by the lack of jobs and job losses that have wreaked havoc around the country.

It is indeed a deep irony that the political silly season is once again coinciding with a daily battle for ordinary Namibians to access sufficient food. How did we get to a situation where our people are suffering to such an extent? Obviously the upcoming polls are important and voting remains the single most powerful instrument we have to address our circumstances in terms of who we think has the best policies and character to take us forward as a nation.

What is sad is that politicians are once again asking the poorest of the poor to dance to campaign songs and vote while their bellies are empty.