Moses /Garoëb constituency councillor, Stefanus Ndengu, says he sees firsthand how abject poverty impacts people's daily lives.
Some of the poorest informal settlements in the Windhoek municipal area are located in Moses /Garoëb, where the majority of people live in squalor, which is compounded by a lack of proper housing and sanitation.
Ndengu, who was elected as the constituency councillor following a by-election earlier in January, said people stream into his office every day begging for food. The circumstances prompted him to approach organisations and people to ask for contributions.
His office is located in Katutura’s Havana informal settlement.
“We are living with people who are unable to feed themselves. Most of the time in our office, people come here crying. You can see that for three days, a person has not eaten anything. This is the reality that our people are suffering because of high unemployment,” Ndengu said.
He said this on Tuesday at his office, when he received a donation of food items from Pluczenik Diamond Namibia. The diamond cutting and polishing company donated food items, including bags of maize meal, rice, cooking oil, and condiments worth N.dollars 10 000.
Councillor Ndengu said the food items will be given to the destitute who come to his office and others who were identified by the community leaders through the Constituency Development Committee (CDC).
He expressed gratitude to Pluczenik 'for answering our calls. As the constituency councillor and my CDC, we always do our best to go and kneel before our people in the community and those outside the constituency so they can help.'
During the handing over, Ailly Besani from Pluczenik said they received a call last month that the constituency required assistance.
“They asked if we could assist with anything. And we decided to buy food. I hope we can do this on a monthly basis. It is not a promise, but other companies can also come on board,” said Besani.
The majority of people in Moses //Garoëb survive by means of the government's social safety nets, which include the old age social grant, the disability grant and the food bank grant.
Last year, the government took the decision to transform the Food Bank Programme into a N.dollar 600 monthly cash payment to close to 10 000 beneficiaries across all 14 regions.
Ndengu has commended the government for this grant, formerly referred to as the Conditional Basic Income Grant, saying that it has brought relief to many households.
“As you can see outside, today people are receiving social grants. But the majority were used to receive food parcels through the food bank, which are now transferred into cash. They are now receiving their money,” Ndengu said about the long line outside his office as hundreds waited for their turns to receive their monthly grants.
A community leader in the constituency, Selma Jonas, told Nampa that poverty is the biggest challenge in the constituency, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many people lost their jobs.
“As a community leader, people come knocking on doors looking for food. People come to us crying because they have nothing to eat at home. Many times we are forced to share the little we have from our own pockets.
Many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and this has added to the number of destitute people in the constituency. In our area, you can find a household with up to 10 people that are dependent on one breadwinner, who in most cases is underemployed,” she said.
Although Jonas commended the government through the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, she said there is a need to increase the beneficiaries of the Conditional Basic Income Grant.
She said many former beneficiaries of the Food Bank programme fell out of this social safety net when it was transformed into a cash payment, while many breadwinners are underemployed and are unable to feed members of their households.
This sentiment was echoed by Helena Kauluma, a mother of three who said she was left out of the Conditional Basic Income Grant. “I used to receive food parcels from the food bank. But now I am not receiving the N.dollars 600, and I do not know why. I think it is important that the government increase the number of beneficiaries,” she said.
Kauluma, who survives by selling tomatoes in Havana, said she receives N.dollars 300 each for two of her children through the orphanage and vulnerable grants and is not receiving a grant for her 10-month-old son.
Source: The Namibian Press Agency