Wednesday 14 April 2021
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No one left out – except with Social grants

The harrowing experience of disabled people, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) as well as old age people obtaining social grants in Namibia could well be described as “Aluta Continua “ – a never ending struggle with no end in sight.
In his recently delivered State of the Nation (SONA) speech President Hage Geingob revealed that there are 39 245 disabled people and 344 055 OVC’s who receive monthly grants. The number for the elderly stand at 165 376 people who receive old age pension to date.
It is however no secret that many people remain unassisted because of a number of barriers. In a 2010 report on “The Effectiveness of Child Welfare grants in Namibia “ by the Ministry of Gender, a number of barriers are highlighted as limiting to beneficiaries accessing their grants.  These are the lack of knowledge of the grant access policy, money for transport to complete application, incomplete documents or the absence of key documents and English as a medium of communication.
As is well known, in Namibia the Government recognises the role of social grants as central in the eradication of poverty as well as lifting people out of poverty. Should you however not have the relevant documentation such as a Namibian Identification Document (ID), birth certificate or a marriage certificate, you will be required to fork out money to pay for these documents at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration (MHAI).
It is widely known in Namibia that for a vulnerable person to access a social grant they have to engage with 6 different line Ministries.  These are Ministry of Poverty Eradication (old age grants), Ministry of Home Affairs (for national documents), Ministry of Gender Equality (for child grants), Ministry of Health (to proof disability) and Ministry of Veterans Affairs (veteran status). The Office of the President also have a function with people with disabilities resorting there. For first timers who are applying for an ID and birth certificate, it would be free.
However for those who are in a quest for duplicates of their documents, they would be required to pay an additional N$ 100 for a full birth certificate and N$ 50 for an ID which they already do not have.
To qualify for a disability grant, non Namibians are required to have permanent residence in Namibia and they must substantiate such.  In the event that they don’t possess the relevant documentation, they can apply for it provided they can afford it as the fees amount to N$ 80 plus N$ 12 130 success fee.
The grant would also require the disabled person to be between the ages of 16 to 59 years and be declared as disabled by a State Medical Officer at the Katutura State Hospital or Robert Mugabe clinic for a fee of N$ 10.
Only then after is the disabled individual able to get in touch with a social worker from the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare for the process to commence.
When it comes to OVC’s receiving any type assistance from a social worker at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW), an OVC has to be between the ages of 16 to 21 years to qualify for a grant. The grant is stopped at the age of 21 years.
Other additional documents required would also be five copies each of a full birth certificate, ID and declaration of the OVC’s guardian that can be obtained from any police station country wide. A confirmation letter of the OVC from school or the latest school report is also mandatory.
During a visit to the MGECW, The Patriot found a number of “clients” complaining in the waiting area.
One of the complainants, in a very distressed tone noted that she can no longer wait to get the whole process behind her because she travelled from Okahandja to Windhoek and has been seated in the waiting room for the whole day.
“I am honestly tired of being sent around from place to place and hate the fact that I am made to wait this long.
At times they will go for lunch and only return at three or four and in the midst of assisting, the social workers answer their phones which to me is very unprofessional.”
Another patron remarked “they are wasting our time here, I really don’t know when these people will change. I have things to do I can’t be seated here all day and at the end of the day go home without receiving help”.
Elderly persons who have reached the age of 60 years qualify for a pension grant. This grant is described as universal in nature. Any Namibian elder qualify as long as they are older than 60.  The documentation required are an ID and birth certificate. Non- Namibians would need a permanent residence certificate and citizenship certificate as well. According to the Namibian Housing and Income Expenditure Survey of 2009/2010, 25% of pension beneficiaries walk 6 kilometres to get to the nearest pay point.
The elderly or any representative on their behalf are required to go to the nearest Pension Offices to apply for the old age grant. This means that they must have all the documents required. In the event that their documentation is incomplete, they are sent back and must return again. Only then are they assisted, by an official who will attend to the elderly in their presence.
Once the application has been processed the elderly will as well receive an approval letter or a notice through NBC radio. The length of the process is however determined by how efficiently the pension offices are provided the elderly can provide their documents with in a timely manner.
Coverage in Namibia remains a challenge and the Government would do well to integrate systems to offer a one stop service to reach all qualifying members of our society. Qualifying criteria must be streamlined to include the many qualifying Namibians into the safety net, offered by social grants.

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