By Anna Shilongo
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social and Community Development that visited the Karas Region on an information-seeking trip regarding critical social issues has concluded its mission.
The Committee visited various towns and villages in the region and held community meetings and paid site visits to state hospitals, community projects and a few households.
During the briefings, the Committee asked relevant authorities about plans and strategies put in place to support the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in the region.
The chairperson of the Committee, Hansina Christian, said the purpose of the meetings was to identify problems so that Members of Parliament could report to the National Assembly, and to allow ministers to hear about problems for possible action.
“We are here to listen to your problems, feel free with us, point out all your concerns that need to be addressed; it is why we are here today,” she said.
Karas Region Governor David Boois also briefed the parliamentary Committee on challenges facing the region, challenges such as HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies, unemployment, prostitution, street kids, poverty, hunger, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
“Our people are affected by poverty, they are unemployed, and they consume a lot of alcohol which is not right, their moralities are broken apart to the extent that they can’t even do anything for themselves,” said the regional governor.
The region is also experiencing shortages of ambulances, health workers, transport, social workers and resources.
In this light, the region has implemented a five- year strategic plan that aims at combating and addressing issues affecting development of the region. This was done with the help of NGO’s.
Other plans in the pipeline are the construction of the OVC (orphans and vulnerable children)centre that would address the growing needs of street children at the town.
Keetmanshoop has recorded the highest number of street children in the region compared to other towns.
There are two OVC centres at Keetmanshoop but they are unable to accommodate all orphans at the town.
Also speaking at the briefing, chief community liaison officer in the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Renolda Jossob highlighted some of the challenges the ministry is facing in the region, such as lack of transport, shortages of staff, social workers, technical facilities, computers, fax and photocopy machines.
“The ministry is understaffed and as a result, workers are unable to carry out their duties efficiently,” she said.
The office only has one outdated sedan vehicle, which is supposed to serve the whole region, and one borrowed computer being shared by five people, and one fax machine.
“We are forced to fax or photocopy at neighbouring offices, our telephones are also outdated and in most cases they are out of order, we can’t even phone outside the region,” she said.
Sharing the same sentiments, deputy director in the ministry Rosina Mabakeng feels her ministry is overlooked when it comes to the allocation of the budget, adding that the budget allocated to the ministry yearly is never enough to cater for all their needs.
“I am quite aware of their challenges in this region, even the issue of social workers. I know there is a huge gap that needs to be filled, and we understand the plight of orphans and vulnerable children,” she said.
Since the inception of the ministry, there was no single social worker based in the region, although the health ministry assists them sometimes.