OMUTHIYA - Many poor people in the remote areas of Oshikoto region say they are struggling to afford the mandatory face masks in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.
They say the masks are inaccessible to them, as it requires them to travel long distances to the nearest town in order to acquire them.
It is costly in the sense that they have to pay transport to and from the village on top of buying a mask, which is roughly sold between N$15 and N$40.
As a result, many rural communities are without masks and have resorted to traditional methods such as the use of any cloth to cover the mouth and nose when in public.
This is still the case despite government through the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade procuring as well as sponsoring small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to produce about 25 000 masks to be distributed among the needy in the region.
Last week, New Era caught up with residents of Onanke who were not wearing masks.
Onanke is the nearest place to purchase masks is Omuthiya, which is 30 kilometres away from Omuthiya town.
“Imagine one have to hike from the village to town just to go purchase a mask costing N$30 or N$40, that becomes too expensive for us as we will have to spend more on transport. As much as we understand the need and importance of masks, we can’t just afford,” bemoaned Aili Fillemon.
“We therefore appeal to government to fast track and give tenders to people so that they can tailor masks even in villages so that the cost can be reduced. We are not objecting to the use at all.”
Another resident, Aina Nuugonya, said she has a mask but it is too tight to wear, as she is unable to breathe well.
Furthermore, she said, many of the rural people lack education and awareness on what type of masks are suitable for use.
As it stands, she said, people use anything, which might not be effective.