Erongo food bank launched
Eradicating extreme poverty
21 October 2019 | Government
Hage Geingob; President; "...we acknowledge that disparities in the income and wealth of Namibians remains among the highest in the world.”
The objective of arresting hunger is a step closer to being realised, President Hage Geingob remarked at the official launch of a food distribution programme in the Erongo Region, heralding the conclusion of food bank roll-out in all 14 regions of the country.
Geingob said in a speech read on his behalf by Erongo Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua, that the launch of the Erongo food bank at the Swakopmund multipurpose centre earlier today, marked a pivotal moment in government’s quest to eradicate extreme poverty in Namibia by 2025.
“Today, as we launch in Erongo to complete the countrywide roll-out, the food bank programme benefits 10 100 households and employs 383 young Namibians across the 14 regions.”
He hailed this achievement as a demonstration of government’s commitment to ensuring that no one dies of hunger in the country, emphasising that the food bank concept represents one of several strategies aimed at eradicating poverty.
The president said that when he declared war against poverty in March 2015, Namibia joined the world in the call to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 – a target government vowed to reach five years ahead of schedule.
“We are making headway in this regard. The latest Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES) 2015/2016 Report by the National Statistics Agency (NSA), reveals further reductions in poverty levels between 2010 and 2015. Extreme poverty decreased from 15.4% to 10.7% over the same period. Equally, the food poverty line has been reduced from 7.2% to 6.1% between 2009/10 and 2015/16 respectively.
“Statistics further reveal that inequality in the distribution of income and wealth (Gini Coefficient) decreased from 0.58 to 0.56. However, despite this decline, we acknowledge that disparities in the income and wealth of Namibians remains among the highest in the world.”
Geingob emphasised that the provision of social assistance to vulnerable Namibians has played a significant role in the reduction of poverty in Namibia.
He said that government has implemented Social Safety Net Programmes such as the Old Age Social Grant; the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) grant; a Disability grant; School Feeding Programmes; Emergency Relief; grants for Veterans; and Development Programmes for Marginalized communities to improve the living conditions of Namibians.
He said the old age social grant reaches 182 195 pensioners while the disability grant reaches 44 172 Namibians. “Both have been effective in reducing child poverty and income inequality. Without a doubt, the increment of the old age social grant from N$600 to N$1 300 in less than five years is something we ought to be proud of.”
To further improve the impact of social safety nets, the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare was tasked to investigate the feasibility of consolidating the plethora of social grants into a more effective safety net.
After consultations the ministry, with assistance from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), embarked on a process of reforming Namibia’s social protection system.
The development of a National Social Protection Policy, which seeks to ensure dignified life for all Namibians, by addressing risks and vulnerabilities experienced was put forward. This policy is at an advanced stage and expected to be tabled in Cabinet and Parliament before the end of the current financial year.
“The food bank is therefore one of the main strategies to address hunger in urban and peri-urban households that are exposed to the immediate risk of starvation and under-nourishment. It is my expectation that the National Social Protection Policy will make necessary provisions to respond to this rising challenge to ensure no Namibian dies of hunger.”
He said that rural households have been and continue to be supported through rural development initiatives that centre on improved food security and agricultural productivity, while traditional support to small-scale farmers such as subsidized inputs, implements and ploughing services have been supplemented with drought relief aid.
The food bank is geared to restoring the dignity of disenfranchised youth through the ‘food for work’ opportunities.
The launch of the first food bank in Namibia took place on 30 June 2016 and was followed by a pilot in seven constituencies of the Khomas region. Upon completion of the Khomas pilot, an assessment was conducted to inform government’s approach in rolling out the programme to the rest of the country and to review effectiveness of the eligibility criteria in selecting those truly needy beneficiaries given the current strenuous fiscal condition.