Query: Regarding the food bank, what is the procedure? How does it actually work? Who qualifies for this service? What is the requirement?
Response: The food bank involves the sourcing of food and non-food items and the distribution of the same to needy people, who are identified using the Street Committees, according to the set criteria. The criteria for the identification of the poor and vulnerable persons during the pilot phase to benefit from the food bank are households whose total per capita monthly income is below N$400. This means that the support is given at household level and not per individual. One food package is given for each household.
Query: Has the Ministry entered into some agreement with supermarkets for the food, or does the Ministry simply pay for all this food?
Response: The food items distributed to the beneficiaries are sourced through donations to the Ministry by the private sector and individuals. The government also purchases the items that are not donated. The Ministry pays for the food, but supermarkets have come forward by packing food parcels, and some donations as well. There is no such agreement with the supermarkets.
The sourcing of the items is done in accordance with government procurement procedures as regulated under the Tender Board Act, 1991 and the ensuing Procurement Act, 2015, and donations will also be accepted in conformity with the State Finance Act, 1991. Emphasis will be placed on procuring local content, in alignment with the Growth at Home strategy of government, as far as possible.
Query: What does the “food package” consist of, what will each person receive?
Response: The monthly food parcels for the beneficiaries have been constituted in consideration of the nutritional value they provide, and is aimed to supplement household food, and contain the following nine items, with a market value of N$550-00:
• 1x 10kg of maize meal
• 6x 400g tinned fish
• 4 x 300g corned meat
• 1x 750ml cooking oil
• 2x 500g beans
• 4x packet yeast
• 1x 2.5 bread flour
• 1x 2kg brown sugar
• 1x 750g green soap bar
The food is meant to be as a meal supplement for beneficiary households. There is also a provision for non-food items that may be donated to it. Provision is made for non-food items.
Query: How many food packages per household? Or is it per individual?
Response: One food parcel for each household. This means that the support is given at household level and not per individual. The food parcels are distributed per household. Each qualifying household receives one food parcel per month. However, for families with household members less than four, a similar parcel is provided, but the sizes of the items are reduced.
The distribution of the food items will be done on a scheduled monthly basis, to the beneficiaries, using the Street Committees. The Ministry has started with the distribution of the food parcels in the pilot constituencies of Tobias Hainyeko and Samora Machel. Registration of beneficiaries is ongoing in Moses Garoeb and Katutura East.
Query: What are some of the challenges the Ministry faces with this service?
Response: The food bank is at its infant stages under a pilot programme in Windhoek, Khomas Region. Challenges associated with new programmes: Many residents claim to be not included, as they don’t meet the criteria, which is set to only included the poor and vulnerable. The distribution process is lengthy, and requires many processes to ensure that the beneficiaries receive the food on time. It is also worth noting that the higher number of beneficiaries implies a complex kind of logistics (personnel and vehicles).
Query: There was an SMS in the Republikein on 08/08/16: “Can the government please bring the food bank to Stampriet?” When will the Ministry bring this service to the rest of Namibia? How far has the Ministry gone to ensure nobody is left out?
Response: The government is committed to establishing food bank outlets in other parts of the country. But we are starting with the pilot in Windhoek which is currently underway, which will also serve as the main/national one to feed the regional offices. The expansion to other regions will follow eventually after approval and assessing and monitoring the pilot phase in Windhoek.
Thousands of people who were victims of hunger/poverty are now being included in government programmes such as this and making sure they are fed.
Query: If Kavango East and West are the poorest regions, why is the food bank being piloted in Windhoek? Is it not logical to pilot it in the poorest areas, in this case, in Kapako Constituency, to see the real impact? SMS in the Namibian: 05/08/2016
Response: The rollout of the food bank to other parts of Namibia will be decided later. For now, the Ministry is involved in the pilot programme in Khomas Region, after which the programme will be implemented in other urban areas outside Windhoek. Windhoek was decided for the pilot project due to the fact that logistics was available to go ahead with such an enormous programme.
Query: Does the Ministry have any other additional information you would like the public to know?
Response: The food bank is one of many interventions in the war against poverty. The provision of food to the most vulnerable is an intervention to those households mostly at risk of hunger/poverty. This is in line with the government’s Harambee Prosperity Plan Goal 7, which targets zero deaths due to hunger [Chapter 5, page 39]. Strict monitoring measures will be continuously applied to track undeserving persons who are benefiting from the programme.
The success of the food bank depends on the cooperation of all stakeholders. The food bank programme has already received generous contributions from different stakeholders, who donated food and non-food items for distribution to the needy. The Ministry registers its appreciation to all such stakeholders and calls for more partnership.
• Lot Ndamanomhata, Chief Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Email: Lot.Ndamanomhata@mpesw.gov.na