OTJIWARONGO - The Otjozondjupa Region hit a milestone in the fight against hunger yesterday at the official launch of its food bank.
The 350 impoverished families in Otjiwarongo who met the criteria for the programme received their first monthly installment of parcels that included items such as maize meal, tinned meat and fish, sugar, salt and beans.
Qualifying beneficiaries in Okahandja, the second town in the region designated to participate in the programme, are scheduled to receive their first bundles on Friday.
A local church packed with regional and local leaders, food bank officials and beneficiaries who showed up for the Otjiwarongo launch, was a home of joy.
“I’m feeling grateful. I have small kids and I don’t work. I hustle here and there. Now my kids have gotten food so I’m very much thankful,” said beneficiary Richard Kamuserandu.
Over the last several months, a seven-member street team of unemployed community members criss-crossed Otjiwarongo, tasked with identifying and registering the town’s most vulnerable families. The volunteers will also oversee distribution operations.
Speaking at the ceremony, food bank consultant Ambassador Angel Fernandez said the street team facet distinguishes Namibia’s food bank programme from others around the world which are typically managed by organisations such as NGOs or churches.
In light of the food bank’s selection guidelines, Deputy Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Aino Kapewangolo stressed that Otjozondjupa administrators should not “hide behind criteria and let people die of hunger”. The minister implored them to instead manage the programme with a creative, empathetic and proactive approach.
Otjozondjupa Governor Otto Ipinge praised the aid, but cautioned beneficiaries against selling their food parcels, with Ipinge warning that both illegal sellers and buyers would be prosecuted. Ipinge further called on the private sector to support the food bank programme so that it could be expanded to other communities in the region.
According to the 2019 Sustainable Development Goals report, as of 2016, 17.4 percent of Namibians are living in poverty, while 10.7 percent are considered to be extremely poor. After observing Cuba’s food bank programme, President Hage Geingob initiated a Namibia scheme – a short-termed intervention aimed at eliminating poverty, particularly for the poorest residents of urban communities who do not have land to grow their own food.
The project piloted in June 2016 to over 15 000 Khomas Region households and concluded with assessments on its impact on poverty reduction to guide future operations. In Otjiwarongo, Deputy Minister Kapewangolo praised the programme and said evaluations of the pilot revealed its significant impact on decreasing food insecurity in Khomas. She added that the national food bank is affordable within the budgetary allocation for the next three years, considering a 10 percent inflation increase.
* This article was submitted by Kaylan Shipanga, an information officer at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Otjozondjupa regional office.
2019-09-19 07:35:17 25 days ago