Windhoek-DTA MP Elma Dienda has called on the government to increase the allowances of people living with disabilities, as well as orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).
People living with disabilities and OVC currently receive a monthly allowance of N$250, but Dienda believes an increment in social grant payments for these groups should be urgently considered.
“With each passing year, the old age pension payment is being increased, but the same adjustment has not been made in respect of grants for OVC and people living with disabilities,” she said in the National Assembly last Tuesday.
“Their needs are as big, if not bigger than those of pensioners,” she said, and asked why the two vulnerable groups are not targeted beneficiaries of the food bank scheme. She said it would significantly alleviate poverty, as these two groups are some of the most hard-hit and affected by poverty.
Dienda further called on the government to provide people who are on ARVs and TB treatment with food parcels. “Taking the medicine without taking in the right food reduces the impact of the medicine,” she said.
Dienda said, given that the ARV and TB medication is normally collected on a monthly basis, patients collecting medicine should also be given food parcels to help improve the effectiveness of the medication.
“Many people default on taking their medicine due to hunger and also because some of the medicine indirectly induces hunger by driving a desire to eat,” she said, adding that when a patient knows the medication makes them hungry, but they have no food, what tends to happen is that they start to default.
According to Dienda, introducing such measures would significantly enhance the quality of life of the most vulnerable people.
She said instead of targeting random people with the food banks, the aim would be better served by targeting specific groups of people whose needs are obvious and measurable and not open to the discretion of biased “community members”.
Dienda said she recognised and appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of Education in providing food parcels to selected learners in some schools, but said when only some learners are given food parcels it can lead to the victimisation of those learners.
She said: “We all know how children are. Those learners who receive food parcels are labelled poor and told by their peers that their parents do not care about them and don’t even give them food.”