Yolanda Tjipuka who is the administration officer in the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, based in the north-western village of Kamanjab, is concerned about parents and guardians gambling and spending child grants on alcohol and cigarettes.
Tjipuka told New Era, “They use it on alcohol and gambling machines. We hold parents’ meetings where we advise them how to use child grants responsibly,” said Tjipuka.
To elaborate on the abuse, the officer said several cases in which child grants were abused have been reported to her office. “School authorities alerted us on the plight of children who are government grant beneficiaries,” Tjipuka added.
The Kamanjab office of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has a child welfare division and community development division with three staff in total.
Houses of beneficiaries are visited at times and those who misuse the grant can be taken off the list as receivers and someone else could be appointed to receive the grant on behalf of the child.
In Kamanjab, 1,332 children receive grants while 254 have been on the waiting list since 2016. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has four grants, namely, the vulnerable grant which unemployed parents receive for their children, a maintenance grant for children whose parents have passed away, a special maintenance grant for disabled children under 18 years, and a foster grant for children under foster care.
According to Tjipuka, children do benefit from various grants until the age of 18 years and can benefit until 22 years as long as they are part of an educational institution, while those who receive a special maintenance grant have to apply for a pension grant when they turn 18.
Government grants are a lifeline in many villages and towns across Kunene Region, which is one of the regions worst affected with high unemployment, and in Kamanjab most single mothers pay their house bills, buy food and clothes solely from the grant.