Friday 14 May 2021
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Government must replace food bank with Basic Income Grant

The national unity, Democratic Party of Namibia, is calling upon the government to reconsider the idea of implementing food banks in all 14 regions. We have been observing with interest how we can help with any inputs to make the dream of the President a reality and for the implementing government agency in the name of Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare to make it easy to implement.
First and for most, the ministry concerned is having a big challenge, which is lack of staff establishment at their disposal to get things done. The ministry is run by a few staff members, mainly those of social welfare, as they were already in existence with the ministry of labour while the division of poverty eradication is empty with no management cadre to drive the idea.
The food bank for Namibia concept is totally not on with the current state of affairs. As we are speaking right now, we don’t have an official concept paper of how this food bank will be managed and operated in a social manner.
The logistics behind food bank, according to Nudo party, are just endless and too costly. The cost of the construction of the food bank is too huge followed by the logistics after this bank has been constructed, each bank in each and every region and constituency must have a staff component to it for receiving and distribution of the food and all items to the needy people in the area of jurisdiction.
As the name sounds itself – food bank you need a huge storage facility, cool room facilities and also trucks with cooling facilities to be able to deliver fresh food to the right beneficiaries. With the challenges of food being rotten due to mechanical hiccups, food being stolen, maintenance cost and operation cost of these banks and many other black areas, it justifies that food banks are not viable in the context of Namibia.
Therefore, we propose that government must reconsider the idea of introducing BIG, which is something we have tried successfully, as county, through the pilot project of Omitara and for sure the Minister concerned is very conversant with the whole concept.
The government through the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare must register all unemployed people from the age of 18 to 59 years old and give them N$250 per month and do away with the construction of food banks and all the money will be put into the budget of Basic Income Grant (BIG), followed by other sustainable measures of collecting more money through social tax or rotary fund, as stipulated in the Harambee Prosperity Plan. Meanwhile, the creation of a statutory fund cannot be overlooked to complement the BIG budget.
A family of five would get N$1 250 per month, which is a lot of money they never had before thus they can buy for themselves basic amenities such as solar panel for lights, corrugated irons for their roofs, groceries and many others just to mention but a few.
Thus, our people will be able to improve their lives and add value to themselves through engaging in entrepreneurial activities and making profit on top of the N$250, and end up being elevated from being unemployed to employed and as an employee recruiting more people that will give a relief to BIG.
We can’t demote our own citizen and electorate to a mare beggar by just waiting for a food basket from the government on monthly basis, which will not be more or with all nutrition for balanced diet. This will also demote our country to a dumping site of many other countries’ food with GMOs, which is a health hazard to our people as a country.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance to unpack and remove BIG from the shelves and give it sunshine to benefit the ordinary citizen and add value to our economy as this money will circulate back into the economy and can be used again and again while the food distribution will force the government to construct more sanitation facilities for the beneficiary of the food bank and most likely the VIP toilets, which warrant the appointment of another constructor to empty the septic tank or drain hole.
Thus, we are saying the food bank expenses are endless, unsustainable, and unjustifiable. Poverty can’t be eradicated or alleviated by giving handouts, that’s a measure to put your people in a permanent poverty, let’s empower our people and they themselves can come up with their own food bank at their own houses by involving with back yard garden, bakery projects and many others as food security.
While with BIG it is very easy, as we currently have a social grant system implemented by Epupa investment, in a very efficient and effective manner why can’t we give them again that responsibility to distribute those grants to the right beneficiaries.
Therefore, Nudo of Namibia is saying let us not demote our citizens to beggars rather than promoting them to a secondary citizen that can add value through BIG. Our people must have a choice of what do they want to eat today not to be put into captivity and be told by the government on how should your meal be for today and tomorrow and how to prepare it. We are ready to be consulted; we are ready to give more inputs on what is the best to give our needy people to address poverty.

*Vetaruhe Kandorozu is the Okakarara Constituency Councillor as well as the deputy secretary general of NUDO.

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