Orphans Deprived of Grants

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK A substantive number of orphans living in Sibbinda Constituency in the Caprivi Region are unable to benefit from the N$200 monthly grant from the Government because they are without birth certificates and other national documents. The constituency has one of the largest numbers of vulnerable groups in the region as it includes the impoverished San community at Bitto and Nampengu. This state of affairs recently prompted the ruling Swapo Party Councillor for Sibbinda, Felix Mukupi to notify the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Rosalia Nghidinwa about the plight of destitute orphans found in his constituency. The number of orphans in the Caprivi currently receiving grants from the State stands at a record 1 385 and some of them are beneficiaries of schemes managed by the Catholic Aids Action (CAA), the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) and Africare among others. Households looking after a single orphan are entitled to a monthly grant of N$200. Those taking care of two orphans receive N$300 and people looking after three get N$400. Though N$34 million is needed annually for the country’s 14 150 registered orphans, the amount required to meet the basic needs of all orphans in Namibia is N$340 million. Though the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has a budget amounting to millions of dollars in child grants, some of the target groups in Sibbinda cannot access these grants because they do not have birth certificates, IDs and the death certificates of their parents. Traditionally, some communities in the Caprivi prefer burying their dead with some of their earthly possessions, namely clothing, blankets, cooking utensils, cutlery and national documents such as birth certificates, IDs and even the death certificates. Last December, the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare recruited one person on a contract basis to register all the orphans in Sib-binda to enable them to receive grants. But this programme is hampered by a lack of IDs and birth certificates and it also resulted in many orphans not being registered to receive the financial assistance. He said “the lack of birth certificates” resulted from the fact that when some people die, they are buried at their villages and their deaths go unreported to relevant authorities. Though the Minister of Gender and Child Welfare is still on leave, the businessman-cum-politician who is using his own resources to aid the registration has appealed for an extension of the registration exercise. “We request for more days and centres as the constituency is too big,” says Mukupi who was requested by the community in his constituency to plead for an extension. The spokesman at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration was unavailable for comment as his telephone constantly rang without being picked up at the time New Era phoned that ministry for comment. In 2001, there were 156 orphans under 18 in Namibia; by 2004 about two-thirds of all orphans had been orphaned by HIV/Aids. The threats most of these vulnerable children face in Namibia are focused in the three areas known as the “Triple Threat”, namely: the HIV/Aids pandemic, with all its devastating impacts on society; food insecurity which could increase drastically with the weakening productive capacity of families and communities and chronic environmental problems; and the weakening capacity of social and economic services. The most vulnerable children in Namibia are being classified as those from poor households who lack access to sufficient food, proper care and education.