The government has decided to increase the benefit amount for the disability grant for children under the age of 18 from N$250 to N$1 300 effective from 2023/2024 to strengthen support for children with disabilities.
The child welfare ministry launched the Social Protection Policy on Thursday to address various challenges, including economic challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the situation of poverty and unemployment among the people.
The ministry stated the grant currently has 6 895 beneficiaries, with the total expenditure per month on the child disability grant amounting to N$1.7 million. With the increase in the benefit amount from 2023/24, the total expenditure per month on the grant will amount to N$8.9 million.
The policy will strengthen, accelerate and enhance coverage to ensure the adequacy of grants to address the basic needs of the people and to uplift them out of abject poverty.
Some of the reforms in the policy that are being strengthened are to introduce a conditional basic income grant to Namibians between the ages of 18 and 59, who are faced with socio-economic challenges due to unemployment and other sudden environmental, social and economic shocks.
“The ministry started the conditional basic income grant by converting the food bank programme into a cash grant as directed by the Harambee Prosperity Plan II, effective from 1 April 2022,” said Doreen Sioka, minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare.
She added there is a development of the integrated management information system (IMIS) to integrate and digitalise the social protection systems, and to explore feasible modalities for the implementation of the universal health coverage and National Pension Fund for comprehensive social protection.
The policy has a broad spectrum of social protection programmes, consisting of social assistance, social insurance, social welfare services and labour market policies as well as a broad range of public – and, in some cases, private instruments are aimed at enabling Namibian people to manage risks and cope with vulnerabilities and shocks throughout their lifetime.
According to Sioka, the policy aims to ensure all citizens, regardless of where they live, have a basic standard of living and a safety net to fall back on in times of adversity.
“This means that all children, youth, women, unemployed people, marginalised communities and people with disabilities are given a fair chance and equal opportunities to reach their full potential, and our senior citizens and war veterans are guaranteed dignity and support in their old age,” she said.
She said the policy would increase coverage and access to social protection services by all Namibians, as it enhances the institutional framework for the delivery of social protection.
“It improves the government’s ability to respond to sudden/severe shocks that may affect many households simultaneously and ensure food security. It will improve coordination and integration mechanisms to strengthen and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of social protection interventions,” she indicated.
“The Government of Namibia has been implementing several social protection programmes, targeting children, youth, women, the elderly, marginalised communities and persons with disabilities. These programs are in a form of child grants, youth and women empowerment schemes, educational financial assistance, social housing, old-age grant, funeral benefits, education and livelihood support to marginalised communities, disability grants and individual support to persons with disability,” she said.