Neglected Villagers Turn to Alcohol

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By Desie Heita

Windhoek

Neglected communities in the Khomas Region drink cheap home-brewed liquor to kill the pangs of hunger, as their political leaders do not talk to them on how to eradicate poverty, it has emerged.

Communities said they last saw their political leaders during the last elections when the leaders visited communities to canvas for votes.

This is one of the many startling findings identified as underlying causes of poverty in the Khomas Region. Lack of education is another.

The findings are contained in a newly released Khomas Regional Poverty Profile report by the Khomas Regional Council. The survey looked at Khomas Region only, using four urban sites and two rural settlements as samples.

The report noted a “serious communication problem” between the very people supposed to guide the regional government in service delivery and poverty eradication in communities. The City of Windhoek also received a portion of the blame for not talking to communities.

Participants in the survey said they had never seen officials from the Regional Council, while others said they last saw members of the Regional Council during election time when the leaders where campaigning for votes.

The report cited rampant abuse of alcohol, drugs, and HIV/AIDS in the surveyed areas. Participants, however, attributed the abuse of alcohol to stress and the need to kill the pangs of hunger.

“Drinking tombo at a dollar a glass filled the stomach cheaply and at the same time allowed the person to forget their problems,” said the report.

“Poor communication between the Regional Councilor and the community can cause poverty because the Regional Councillor is responsible for development within communities, by ensuring that the needs of their constituency are raised at the Regional Council meetings,” the report said.

Participants also pointed at the lack of education, low or poor education levels as the biggest social problem contributing to the rate of poverty and vulnerability in the Khomas Region.

The communities surveyed said the majority of poor people are those with a low level of education or none at all.

“This hinders them from getting jobs or having skills and knowledge to create their own self-employment opportunities,” said the report.

Community members in Dolam, Damara and Otjomuise said as much as education is said to be free, school fees and school materials cost more than what they used to be during apartheid. They complained about their children being sent back from school for not having shoes, school fees, and notebooks. The communities also reported a large number of school drop-outs because of expensive school fees.

“The profile has come at the right time when we are preparing for the 3rd National Development Plan. With the new approach of Integrated Result Based Management, we need to ensure that everything we plan in the five years document makes an impact on the lives of those that are poor,” Governor of Khomas Region, Sophia Shaningwa said in her foreword for the report.

The Khomas Region is home to 250 262 people of whom 126 648 are males.

The reason for the survey was to solicit input from communities, which the Regional Council intends to feed into the formulation of an effective poverty reduction plan.

The United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, and the National Planning Commission helped with the survey.

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