Mashare villagers desperate

There seems no end to the suffering of the people in Kavango East with yet another family destitute and hungry.

22 August 2019 | Local News

A struggling family of 13 in Kavango East, who survive solely on the pension of the head of the household, is pleading for support.

Namibian Sun came across Ndala Mbambi (95) and his family at Koro village in the Mashare constituency where they are finding it hard to make ends meet. Koro village is situated about 90 kilometres east of Rundu.

Mbambi said their suffering has been exacerbated by the drought.

“We experienced poor rainfall this season, therefore we did not harvest a lot of mahangu that could keep us going until the next season. We are surviving on one meal a day, which is porridge and soup. If it was not for my pension grant, things would have been worse,” Mbambi said.

Mbambi's monthly state pension is the only source of income for the family, who are waiting for the drought-relief programme to be rolled out.

Other challenges the family endure are a lack of amenities such as water, electricity, telecommunication and transport.

Government institutions such as clinics and police stations are very far away and mobile phone coverage is poor or non-existent.

To get water, Mbambi's grandchildren travel a few kilometres by donkey cart to the nearest borehole.

“We have been waiting for potable water at our homesteads and rural electrification services to come to us as it's promised during elections but until now nothing has been forthcoming. The only thing that changes is our age,” Mbambi said.

His family live in a combination of traditional huts and corrugated-iron shacks. The children sleep on the ground, as they have no beds.

“As you can see, these are the conditions the rooms are in and we really need support, especially for my grandchildren who need clothes, mattresses and blankets,” Mbambi said.

When asked where the parents of his grandchildren were, Mbambi said they had gone to various places in search of jobs but have not found work. Some of his grandchildren are orphans. One of the grandchildren, 29-year-old Bernadine Muhupe, said besides working in cuca shops there are no jobs locally.

She said at other villages one would find community projects that employ people but at their village there is no such opportunity, which means they sit at home with nothing to do except domestic chores.

“I would like to get a job and assist my family but because there are no opportunities for us young people in the community, we just have to sit at home and hope that good rains come and then we cab harvest our crops,” Muhupe said.

When contacted for comment, Mashare constituency councillor Phillip Mavara acknowledged that life in the rural areas is difficult for many people - a situation which is common countrywide and not just in Mashare. Mavara said his office is supplying food to the most needy people while waiting for food aid to be distributed.

“At the moment we are only giving food to those in dire need. Other people in the community who have also been affected by the drought will get aid once the drought-relief food comes to the office. They should just remain patient; once the food comes, the people will receive assistance,” Mavara said.

He said there is no water shortage at Koro village because there are two boreholes supplying the community, but there are no funds to provide them with pipelines to their homes.

As for access to electricity, Mavara said government institutions such as schools and clinics in the area have been electrified.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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