WINDHOEK - The Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Bishop Zephania Kameeta says government spent N$70 million for the acquisition of food for the destitute through the poverty-busting food bank programme in 2018.
He made the revelation yesterday when he addressed the first general staff meeting that also served as a media briefing held in Windhoek.
Kameeta said the food bank programme distributed free food parcels to 17,000 beneficiaries in Khomas, //Kharas, Hardap, Kavango East and West regions.
He said this year, a needs assessment survey will be undertaken so that the free-food initiative to help eradicate poverty will be rolled out to all 14 regions - which will result in the number of beneficiaries being increased.
“It is worth noting that the food bank in collaboration with the World Food Programme received a huge boost in terms of operationalisation with the official launch of the biometric system called Scope in November 2018, which has made it easier to clamp down on fraudulent collection of food parcels,” he stated.
“It will help in identifying, registration of beneficiaries, distribution of food parcels and acts as a data source for reporting,” explained Kameeta.
The retired bishop further explained phase one of the Scope implementation is close to completion, with two constituencies in Windhoek remaining and phase two set to begin in 2019 in conjunction with the planned regional rollouts.
The ministry established an account where stakeholders, corporate organisations and others could donate money to assist those in need.
He said since the account was opened, an amount of N$4.6 million was generated.
The donation account is linked to the special programme of the ministry and its aimed at addressing the immediate needs of those who might find themselves in desperate situations such as people in informal settlements who are confronted with losing belongings due to unexpected fires and floods.
Kameeta said the ministry has faced some challenges such as the fragmentation of the social protection systems in Namibia and he is confident the social protection policies that will address all overlapping issues and ensure those in need are covered comprehensively.
He said the ministry also noted that during the year that the issue of unemployment continues to haunt the nation in general and that as long as there is unemployment and no opportunities for people to become employed, then the task of eradicating poverty becomes more demanding and challenging.
Another challenge is that minimal economic growth has affected the ministry’s abilities to expand its programme and this has also meant less resources allocated to the ministry.
Kameeta therefore hopes a higher economic growth will return and that the nation will recover from the current economic challenges that it face.