Everyone is struggling

The poverty eradication minister says when President Hage Geingob talks about the war against poverty, he means every citizen should have access to basic human rights, and not luxury living.

20 November 2018 | Social Issues

Poverty eradication minister Zephania Kameeta has slammed those who criticise the government's food bank initiative, saying even those critics with so-called good salaries are finding it hard to make ends meet.

“Even those with so-called good salaries are struggling to make ends meet and make it through the month, but then put yourself in the shoes of those that are unemployed,” Kameeta said at the official launch of the Rundu food bank at the weekend.

Kameeta said the dry food distributed to food bank beneficiaries only lasts about two weeks, but the bottom line is that it makes a difference in their lives.

“The food bank does not cover everything, it maybe just covers two weeks of the month, but the most important thing is that it makes a difference to people who have nothing,” Kameeta said.

He said when President Hage Geingob talks about the war against poverty, he means every citizen should have access to basic human rights, and not luxury living.

“When the president decided that we should fight the war against poverty, he did not mean that we have to buy everyone luxury houses or cars, but ensure that everyone has access to the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clothing, clean drinking water and health services.”

Kameeta said the food bank is just another programme the government uses to take care of its citizens, while citing free education, drought relief and school feeding programmes as similar initiatives.

“The establishment of food banks is one such way of addressing hunger, especially in the urban and peri-urban areas.”

Regarding the concerns that food banks are not sustainable, given the financial situation the country is faced with, Kameeta said they had been budgeted for over the next three years, while taking into account an envisioned 10% increase in inflation.

About 949 residents from Rundu's urban and peri-urban areas have been registered as food bank beneficiaries, but thus far only 811 have been approved and received their parcels on Saturday.

Kameeta used the opportunity to urge the beneficiaries to not only depend on the handouts, but to seize the opportunity to empower themselves.

He explained that even though the food bank is sustainable for the next three years, he expects the beneficiaries to empower themselves.

“We are giving you the food to get the energy to work and for you to one day, for example, open a supermarket and be empowered. People must say that the owner of that shop was once a recipient of the food bank and now she is on her own. That's the idea behind the establishment of the food banks,” Kameeta said.

He said an assessment of the Khomas food bank pilot programme revealed that about 90% of the beneficiaries were food insecure before the intervention.

However, after the introduction of the food bank, 62% of them are now food secure.

Kameeta said his ministry, in consultation with key stakeholders, came up with more stringent criteria to ensure that only those confronted by extreme hunger and poverty, benefit from the food bank initiative.

He said the process of re-registering food bank beneficiaries in the Khomas Region has been completed.


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