Southerners to get food banks

While under fire for being unsustainable along with calls for harmonisation, the food bank programme will be launched in the south next.

28 May 2018 | Government

Nearly 2 800 people are to benefit from the poverty ministry's food bank programme in three southern towns within two months as the programme is expanded from the Khomas Region to the rest of the country.

At the launch of the ministry's five-year strategic plan, customer service charter, website and blueprint on wealth distribution and poverty eradication, minister Zephania Kameeta confirmed to Namibian Sun that plans were well under way for establishing food banks in the //Karas and Hardap regions.

Kameeta said the ministry aimed to begin handing out food parcels in the south within the next two months. Street committees have been selected and trained and the majority of beneficiaries have been registered.

Lydia Jossob of the food bank management directorate confirmed that 324 households have been registered as beneficiaries at Mariental.

The food bank programme's pilot phase that was launched in the Khomas Region in 2016 has enabled the ministry to tweak the programme to ensure that the most destitute and needy benefit. This included revising beneficiary qualification criteria, according to which the new beneficiaries have been identified.

At Keetmanshoop, 218 households have been registered, and 140 at Lüderitz. Jossob said these numbers could change after a final assessment of special cases is completed.

Special cases involve households that do not fully comply with the criteria but where the ministry considers special circumstances.

“Although the new criteria will exclude a greater number of people, we will consider special cases once identified by the street committees, particularly for people who receive pensions, war veteran or disability grants, given the circumstances they may find themselves in.”

Kameeta confirmed that the Kunene Region was next in line for a food bank. At the end of 2016, Kunene authorities had already highlighted the urgent need for a food bank in the region, where the majority of residents are suffering because of prolonged droughts and food is scarce.

The Omaheke, Kavango West and East region are also scheduled to join the food bank programme this year.

Earlier this year, the ministry said a number of challenges were experienced during the pilot phase in the Khomas Region.

The challenges included infrastructural and warehousing problems, which have been resolved.

Another challenge was that the original eligibility criteria for food aid were too broad. Initially, more than 22 000 households - a maximum of 94 000 persons - were identified as beneficiaries in the Khomas Region.

With the new criteria, the numbers were reduced by 7 000 households, totalling 64 874 persons.

The ministry has emphasised that the programme is intended for those living in extreme poverty in urban and peri-urban areas, with other government programmes catering for rural residents. The updated criteria exclude households where one or more members earn a permanent income. People receiving pensions or other social grants, war veteran grants or disability grants are excluded, although exceptions can be made.

Other households excluded from receiving food aid are those composed of young adults who are not physically or mentally disabled and have no children to care for.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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