Ongwediva-In eradicating poverty and addressing income inequality, the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has reiterated its commitment to enhance the fragmented social protection system in the country.
Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Zephania Kameeta said this when he met with Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto and Ohangwena representatives to discuss the blueprint and implementation plan to address poverty and inequality.
Kameeta said the aim of the blueprint was to bring all poverty eradication related programmes under one umbrella and to address the ineffectiveness of the fragmented social protection systems and programmes.
While there has been some criticism of the socials grants that are said by some to create dependency and make people lazy, Kameeta said the nation should imagine Namibia without the elderly, disability and vulnerable social grants.
“These grants have managed to send many children to school and have averted severe hunger and malnutrition situations we have been witnessing the world around,” said Kameeta.
He said the interventions and activities to be implemented under the blueprint are not new as such, but require accelerated implementation to address the people’s basic needs and lift them out of abject poverty.
Although the fight against poverty and inequality has been at the forefront of all national development programmes since 1990, the majority of the people in rural areas remain trapped in desperate poverty.
He said the main aim of the fight against poverty and inequality is to ensure all Namibians have access to the basic necessities of life, and to ensure they are given equal opportunities that will enable them to bring their lives on par with their fellow citizens.
“The rationale for the blueprint therefore is to fulfil the human rights of the poor and vulnerable by ensuring that they meet their basic needs and attain prosperity similar to any other citizens in the country,” said Kameeta.
The ministry has directed efforts to simplify the cumbersome process through which individuals are tested and verified to benefit from the provided social grants. At present, the testing and verification of those who seek to benefit from social grants is done by a chief medical officer, who is also a doctor, thus rendering the service somewhat inaccessible.
I-Ben Nashandi, the permanent secretary in the Poverty Eradication Ministry said the ministry is hard at work to re-engineer the system. “We acknowledge that the current system is a challenge, but we are looking into how to simplify the process without compromising the intent,” Nashandi said.
Special advisor to the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Advocate Bience Gawanas said implementation of the blueprint commenced in April. She said the ministry was also looking to establish a single household registry for all grant beneficiaries to root out corruption.
The ministry will also look into introducing a basic income grant for people between the ages of 19 and 59, who do not qualify for the existing grants yet do not have means to sustain themselves.