Okanhandja Park resident Loide Nambudunga was one of the first of 27 500 people who received a food parcel under the newly-launched food bank programme yesterday.
President Hage Geingob visited Nambudunga (53), who was with her husband and 11 children, at her house to deliver the groceries - a bag of maize meal, cooking oil, tinned fish, corned meat, beans, yeast, bread flour, sugar and a bar of soap valued at N$550. “I'm thankful because my family and I have really been struggling financially,” she beamed. Mother of two Werhermine Shilongo (45), was another beneficiary, who said the food parcels will bring relief to her children and unemployed husband. She urged government to keep the food parcels coming.
Shilongo, a vendor at the Fidel Castro Ruz Primary School, said she only earns N$5 per day. The food bank, which was launched yesterday, is part of the government's Harambee Prosperity Plan's Goal 7, which targets zero deaths due to hunger. Nambudunga and Shilongo are just two of the 27 500 people in 4 816 households registered to receive food. Geingob said the launch was testament to the fact that the wheels of the Harambee Prosperity Plan were now in motion.
The President said for July, 160 753 Namibians will receive old-age pension payouts totaling N$176,8m, and 36 187 Namibians will receive disability payouts totaling N$39,8m. Poverty eradication minister Zephania Kameeta said only those who earn less than N$400 per month will qualify to receive food bank handouts. However, this criterion will be used in the pilot programme, and is not a criterion set in stone. Government intends to run the pilot programme in the Tobias Hainyeko and Samora Machel constituencies before extending it to the rest of the country.
Over 117 street committees, chosen from poor communities, underwent intense training to assist in the identification of the most impoverished, as well as to assist with the food distribution.Geingob said the provision of food to the needy, contrary to popular perceptions, is not aimed at creating a culture of dependence, but to assist the needy.
“There are those who will question the sustainability of food handouts and say that it will create a dependency syndrome. To those people, I would like to say that they should understand that the food bank concept is part of an integrated Poverty Eradication Framework, which includes a graduation model. The intent is to ultimately break the poverty cycle, and not create dependency,” he stressed.