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San in Kavango West trapped in extreme poverty

2020-04-29  Staff Reporter

San in Kavango West trapped in extreme poverty

lizabeth Hiyolwa

NKURENKURU - The San community near Nkurenkuru are still subjected to living in extreme poverty, as they still have no access to basic needs such as proper shelter, food and water.

Makeshift structures covered with plastics, old and torn clothes and blankets is what Kapuka Cewe and others call their home. Others sleep in half constructed wooden and plastic structures, hoping it does not rain each day as there will be no peaceful sleep guaranteed.
“During rainy season, we cover our rooms with a lot of plastics and we are forced to light up fire inside and it is risky to cook inside the plastic room you sleep in,” said Cewe.

The conditions of their rooms are demeaning as there is no privacy or safety guaranteed. They say they have become targets for thieves, who steal their food and water and this has prompted them to hand over the little money they make and their national identity documents to the custodians for safekeeping.
They narrated that spending days and nights without having anything to eat has become a common thing for them, as they do not have enough food.

Cewe says because of his sick condition, he does not bring anything to the table, as he is unable to join the rest in search of casual work, as he mostly sits home with little hope that others bring something to fill his stomach.
Some of the community members claim they do not have national documents while some have lost their documents and this they say is a stumbling block for them to access the emergency income grant offered by the government.   

Haipanda Kaimbi, who stays with Cewe, says he at least receives the old age grant from the government, but says it is not enough to build proper structures nor buy food that will last for a long period as many of his family members depend on him.
“When the money is finished from buying food, you go around in search of casual work but they turn you away because you are old. When you go home, you first search the refuse bins with hopes of finding discarded food to eat,” said Kaimbi.

He further says the situation has forced him to take cash loans where he is subjected to overcharges of N$50 for every N$100 he borrows.
Aune Mathias who lives with her two biological children and three orphaned children of her late sibling is also unemployed and only possesses a birth certificate and a voter’s card. 

She says it is difficult for her to maintain herself and the children with the little she makes by doing casual works such as assisting with house chores in exchange of money or food where sometimes she would be paid less. 
“When you do casual work at people’s houses, some honour the oral contract but some would pay you anything they feel like after you have already done the job, so you are left with no choice but to accept,” she grumble.
She says sometimes her brother, who receives a disability grant would assist her to buy food as she does not receive any form of grant from the government.

Mathias says they never received information on food relief programmes or grants meant to benefit the marginalised communities.  Furthermore, she says they feel discriminated, as the councillor never attends to their plight.
Veiko Mise Tame who originates from the same area of locality as Mathias says the lack basic needs such as running water, decent shelters, food and blankets has subjected them to extreme poverty.  

The Nkurenkuru Town Council CEO, Petrus Sindimba, said that although there is provision of a water pipeline through Kakuro locality, some residents find themselves illegal in the area and therefore do not have water taps.  He says the council has discouraged the residents of Kakuro to fetch water from the river.   

“There is provision of water. Even people with no erven numbers have access to water as long as they reside within town, including those who were residing there before the proclamation,” he said. 
The CEO also indicated that if there is anyone residing there who does not have access to water, they ought to approach the town council office to make a request.  

An official from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security indicated that the ministry organises outreaches for inland communities to help the marginalised get documentation. 

The official stated that the marginalised people who live within town come to the office themselves as it is nearby and they are exempted from the normal procedure of acquiring national documents as long as they are born in Namibia. 
The constituency councillor, Damian Nakambare, indicated that his office ensures that all the residents in the constituency receive information disseminated through different platforms and that he host community meetings for all communities. He further indicated that there are three food programmes, which cater for the san people and that there is no way that this people cannot be catered for.

“The san people have programmes they benefit from. Their children go to school for free and they receive school uniforms through different donations. They receive food from three food programmes catering for the san people, Food bank and drought relief programme,” he said. 
An explanation given by food distributors in town is that whenever the distribution team comes to an area, they will find new people who are not on the list, and so they will add them to include them in the next rounds of distributions.  

2020-04-29  Staff Reporter

Tags: Khomas
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