By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK People engaged in feeding programs for children are concerned that soaring food prices might put a strain on their efforts. While those with monthly salaries are facing pecuniary deficiencies, it must be even more difficult for those who depend on the goodwill of others to survive. "The higher the food prices, the smaller the pot becomes," commented 71-year-old Christina Karises, founder of the Mother's Voice, an institution that looks after 84 children. Supported by the Christina Swart-Opperman AIDS Orphans Foundation Trust, Karises says the cost of basic food such as bread, macaroni, rice, maize-meal and sugar is constantly going up and the budget can no longer meet all basic needs. Bread, which forms a major part of the children's daily meals, has become expensive with a loaf costing nothing less than N$7.50. "We used to give children four slices each to carry to school but now you find that sometimes we can only give each child two or three slices," added Karises. She told New Era that the situation is so bad that she has to turn to her pension money of N$450 to supplement the monthly donations. Early this month, she invested N$300 from her pension in hoodia seed. The intention is to grow the hoodia plant as an income-generating project. Founder of the Dolam Children's Home Rosa Namises explained that last year the centre had a budget of N$150 for three meals a day per child. The skyrocketing food prices demand a budget of N$200 per child per day. "We are in trouble. Instead of buying bread, we have resorted to buying bread-flour and make the bread ourselves," she said. She added: "We do not know how to cope and actually we are in the process of asking for donations." Dolam Children's home cares for 18 children ranging from ages seven to eighteen (18). Economists have warned that ongoing food price hikes will deal a heavy blow on the poor. Chief Executive Officer of RMB Asset Management Namibia (Pty) Ltd Martin Mwinga said ever increasing fuel prices have ripple effects on other basic items such as food. This has led to some sections of society proposing that poor households turn to gardening in order to have something to eat. Last week, Prime Minister Nahas Angula revealed that Government could scrap taxes on basic consumer goods in an effort to provide relief to Namibians. Earlier this year, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) reported that the annual price of food has increased by 15.6 percent. World food prices have risen by 45 percent in the last nine months with serious shortages of rice, wheat and maize reported almost everywhere. The price of rice, for example, went up by 76 percent between December last year and April, with prices expected to maintain relatively high levels, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said. The food price crisis is said to have been triggered by a triple threat: bio-fuel production supplanting food production; a devastating drought in wheat-producing Australia; and increased adverse global warming effects on flood and drought conditions.
2008-05-21 00:00:00 10 years ago