Foodbank benefits over 94 000 needy people

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WINDHOEK, 14 October 2016 - A pensioner pictured after receiving his hamper at the John Pandeni Constituency office in Windhoek during the monthly distribution of food under the Food Bank Programme of the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-The foodbank, a government initiative aimed primarily at addressing ‘hunger poverty’, has benefited a combined total of 22 354 households and 94 536 individuals to date.

Khomas Regional Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua made the announcement this week during a regional meeting of the ruling party Swapo, address by President Hage Geingob.

Geingob is the brains behind the foodbank initiative, which some had criticised that it would create a dependency-syndrome among communities.

During the meeting, McLeod-Katjirua, who doubles as Swapo deputy secretary-general, highlighted some of the key developmental achievements and challenges facing Khomas in areas such as education, health, capital projects, rural development, and social welfare projects.

The foodbank, which was launched last year, is part of the government’s Harambee Prosperity Plan’s Pillar 7, which targets zero deaths due to hunger. At the time there were those who questioned the sustainability of food handouts and said that it will create a dependency syndrome.

However, during the launch, President Hage Geingob had said the provision of food to the needy, contrary to popular perceptions, is not aimed at creating a culture of dependence, but to assist the disadvantaged.

Under the social welfare projects achieved, the governor noted distribution of drought relief food to 2 656 households in Windhoek Rural constituency.

Further she said foodbank activities were rolled out in seven identified constituencies, namely Tobias Hainyeko, Samora Machel, Moses Garoeb, John Pandeni, Katutura East, Katutura Central and Khomasdal.

“All street committees are operational in those constituencies. The remaining three are still in the process,” the governor said.

“Targeted interventions such as micro finance scheme, rural employment scheme and cash or food for work programmes are also progressing well with at least 120 temporary jobs created under cash for work.”

Another achievement she singled out was the 70 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES) that were supported through the income generating activities programme to the tune of N$1 million.

The regional council also managed to rescue 10 identified orphans and vulnerable learners who are currently furthering their education through Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) in Zimbabwe and Botswana respectively.

She added they also managed to establish the Khomas junior regional council.
Regarding education, she revealed that 290 early childhood development centres were created.

The region also constructed 46 new classrooms last year to replace some of the tent classrooms and other non-permanent structures. Another 26 classrooms, she said, are currently under construction at Tobias Hainyeko Primary Project School and Elim Primary School. These are expected to be completed end of this month.

Construction of three ablution facilities at various schools and the completed kitchen for the Namibia feeding scheme at Khomasdal for needy learners are some of the projects to be inaugurated this year.

Health-related achievements include the rollout of HIV counselling and testing services at all health facilities in the region – resulting in over 22 000 people getting tested for HIV last year alone.

“Over 116 000 people are currently on HIV care and treatment since the introduction of the anti-retroviral therapy in the region,” she announced.

“The number of successfully treated TB (tuberculous) cases has increased from 85 to 87 percent last year. TB defaulter rate has been reduced to three percent which is below the WHO (World Health Organisation) target of five percent in the treatment of the TB patients.”

Another highlight related to male circumcision services, which saw 19 659 men having been circumcised in Khomas alone.

Although land remains a major challenge, she said phase 7 of the construction of services infrastructure in Groot Aub is complete and so far 114 erven have been connected to the sewer system with the total length of 6.5 km.

Other challenges she highlighted is the shortage of serviced land for residential purposes as well as for institutional land to build schools and hospitals for the residents.
Urbanisation of people from other regions, she says, remains a headache, as people seek better opportunities in Khomas, where the capital Windhoek is located. This has led to the mushrooming of informal settlements in the city.

Illegal occupation of earmarked land for schools and hospitals, she added, remains a challenge, so is the slow pace of maintenance of existing schools, clinics and hospitals.
High unemployment, alcohol and crime are also a problem in the Khomas.

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