Thousands of destitute residents from the Tobias Hainyeko Constituency continue to receive food through the food bank programme, but the host councillor believes this is temporary relief and the focus should be shifted to empowerment through skills. While hundreds of impoverished residents in his constituency were receiving their monthly supply of food, Councillor Christopher Likuwa spoke to this publication to shed light on the programme’s impact so far and the way forward. At least 2 252 registered beneficiaries of the food bank received their food parcels this week. The food was distributed at the Mandume Women Centre and the Rantata open space in Okuryangava on Tuesday as well as at the Babylon and Kilimanjaro locations on Thursday.
Likuwa narrated how poverty continues to affect thousands of the constituency’s residents, with many often going to bed without a meal. He singled out unemployment, crime and limited electricity coverage, as some of the major challenges plaguing the constituency. “The food bank helps to ease the poverty situation, but going forward we must work on programmes that will help our people to start their own income-generating projects so that they cannot continue depending on government for food,” he said.
The parcels were prepared in two categories: beneficiaries of households with two to three people received small packages while households with five people and more received bigger packages. The parcels consisted of 10kg of maize meal, six 400g tinned fish, four 300g tinned corned meat, one 750ml bottle cooking oil, two 500g beans, four packets of yeast, one 2.5 kg bread flour, one 2 kg brown sugar and one 750g soap bar. Although some community members lament that the food parcels are not enough to last a month, Likuwa said the consignment at least enables community members to use their money to buy other things.
The criterion for the identification of the poor and vulnerable persons during the pilot phase of the food bank is households whose total per capita monthly income is below N$400. This means that the support is given at household level. Likuwa further explained that despite the rules being clear, the teams are forced to cater for pensioners who either live on their own or with their grandchildren.
“In some instances, you have pensioners coming to the office for registration but they live alone, this means they do not qualify because of the old-age pension they receive. But most of these people have nothing to eat at their homes therefore we are sometimes forced to accommodate them,” he said. It is expected that 5 816 households with a total of 27 500 people will benefit from the food bank in the Tobias Hainyeko Constituency during the pilot period.
The beneficiaries, who queued up as early as 06:00, could not contain their joy over the food bank programme. Paulus Mwakelelasha, 52, expressed his gratitude over the food bank saying that it is of great help. “We used to struggle to put something on the table but at least now it will be better. Victoria Haindongo, 37, who only survived on the little that she made from selling kapana, said that the food bank is really helpful and that she has hope that the food will sustain them for the whole month. “We pray that God bless our leaders for this great initiative,” she expressed.
According to 39-year-old Krette Garises, her household survived on the little money that she made from doing house work. “It was never enough for all of our needs, I am very grateful that we are getting these things. Our children will also have something to eat,” added Krette. The beneficiaries expressed their gratitude and asked that the government continue with this kind of programme. “This is more than enough for us,” expressed 37-year-old David Ivula. In the presence of the Namibian Police Force, the parcels were distributed in an orderly manner with no conflict reported.