Lack of IDs exacerbates poverty in Kavangos

18 May 2020 | Local News



Many residents of the Kavango West and Kavango East regions remain at the periphery of government's poverty reduction initiatives, such as social grants, because they do not possess national identity documents.

These residents are often originally foreigners from mostly the poverty-stricken southern parts of Angola, who crossed the Okavango River into Namibia decades ago in search of better opportunities.

Without identity documents, people from these communities also find it difficult to find jobs.

Their minor dependents also face exclusion from schemes such as monthly grants for orphans and vulnerable children as they cannot be registered for such services due to lack of crucial identity documents.

With schools also requiring some form of identity before registering learners, children also face the prospects of not going to school.

The few lucky children who obtained identity documents with the assistance of schools still do not qualify for the grants because their parents do not have the required documents.

Under these conditions, poverty becomes a vicious cycle over generations in these communities.

Dire situation

Karanawa informal settlement in the Kavango West's Nkurenkuru constituency is a classic example of this situation.

One resident, Helena Mukoveka, arrived in the area from Angola 30 years ago. According to her health passport, she is 42 years old.

Mukoveka lives with her partner Micheal Kasera Petrus, a farmworker.

Sixteen people live in the compound they share with their children, the eldest being 27, and grandchildren.

'Life is not easy'

The unemployed Mukoveka narrated her ordeal, saying life is difficult in Karanawa as her only source of income or survival comes from doing odd jobs in the community.

“Life is not easy for us here as I am struggling to raise my children,” she said. She explained that her younger children, aged 10, nine, three and 10 months, are not recipients of the monthly social grant because she does not have Namibian identity documents which would allow her to register her children for assistance.

While Petrus is a Namibian citizen and is in possession of a national document, their challenge is securing N$400 which they, along with a witness, will use as transport fare to travel to Rundu to obtain a marriage certificate from the Catholic church. This would allow Mukoveka to apply for a Namibian ID.

Lack of honesty

When contacted for comment, Nkurenkuru constituency councillor Damian Nakambare said many people living at Karanawa and other informal settlements are mostly from Angola and are, in most cases, not honest with officials as far as their identities are concerned.

Nakambare said a number of people in the communities lie, claiming to have lived in Namibia for years, yet they only recently moved to Namibia from Angola.

This lie, he said, is detected when the affected persons can't express themselves in local languages.

However, Nakambare called on foreign nationals who want to acquire Namibian citizenship to follow the right procedures by approaching the relevant stakeholders.

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