Drought relief vouchers impress Mutorwa

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Drought relief vouchers impress Mutorwa

NKURENKURU – Deputy Prime Minister John Mutorwa, says he is impressed by the Commodity and Beneficiary Management Information System (CBMIS), which enables the digitilisation of beneficiaries’ data  and the issuance of vouchers to them. 

The vouchers are redeemed at local contracted retailers and beneficiaries collect their food parcels there. 

“The transition to vouchers eases administrative and logistical costs associated with food delivery, storage and distribution. It also minimises the risk of pilferage and waste of drought relief products, and promotes support to the local economies in the different localities, as vouchers are redeemed at local retailers,” Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said recently.

Currently, 2 276 people are benefitting through the voucher system.   Engaging the Kavango West leadership last week, Mutorwa was impressed by the progress made so far. 

The Government is busy working on a pilot project to give vouchers to drought relief beneficiaries to give them faster access to their food packs from nearby shops and cuca shops.

I am very impressed with these leaders here, both political and the technocrats and the casual workers, who are loading and offloading the food to ensure it reaches the communities,” Mutorwa said. 

During the visit, he observed that the warehouse was empty, “not because there was no food, but because the food is where it matters”. 

“It is with the beneficiaries, so I am very happy here. Of course not everything is in place, that is why we are touring. This is a programme for all of us, but so far so good. This truck is ready, they are loading so they can deliver (the food), that is what we want to see. We don’t want to be impressed with the warehouse full of bags, and then the excuses of no transport come. It (the warehouse) must be empty, people there must say we received our food,’’ he said during a visit to the Kavango West warehouse at Katwitwi village.

Mutorwa said although there may be challenges, the government should push to establish the voucher system where it is feasible.

During a meeting at Nkurenkuru, he advised that anything being piloted must be done properly, and consultations are important. 

“But I like how it was explained It is a pilot project, and the principles that we want to achieve are noble principles, cutting on cost, faster way of getting the food to communities as well as empowering local businesses. The principle is good, but you need to work harder to perfect it, looking at practical, conditions of our country,’’ he said. 

The DPM noted that the programme will be implemented in practical possible areas, where it will work without causing inconveniences. “But in areas where it is impossible for practical reasons, the government will find a way to get there. There are certain programmes that the government does that reach every corner of the country, with or without transport, and people always ask us how we get it right. I’m talking about the election programme. So, also this project is very important,” he noted.

During Mutorwa’s visit, the regional council indicated that there were complaints about the quality of the maize meal.

“On the issue of the quality of the maize meal, what I have to say is that this maize meal is unsifted it will be different from the one we buy from shops, the one that we are used to consuming. The one we buy from the shops is sifted maize meal. 

The difference is the sifted maize meal is super-refined, to an extent that it has very little nutrients remaining,” said Helen Likando, the director of the disaster risk management in the OPM, who accompanied the deputy prime minister.

“And when we are feeding the people who are hungry and at the verge of suffering from malnutrition, we want to give them nutritious food which is unsifted to supplement their nutrition components. But we will test to see if it is good for human consumption or not,’’ she said. 

In Kavango East, the warehouse was packed to the roof with drought relief food, a situation attributed to transportation challenges, including poor roads that are hampering the delivery of food.

–  jmuyamba@nepc.com.na