Windhoek - The recent launch of a food distribution programme in Oshikoto region by the Namibian Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare brings hope to food security in the region.
The development was described by the Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister, Zephania Kameeta, as one of the milestones that the ministry has achieved in the quest of ensuring no Namibian goes to bed hungry or dies of hunger.
As Namibia is faced with food insecurities due to the drought that affected the agricultural season, the food distribution programme is one of the government’s initiatives aimed at addressing hunger and poverty.
Hunger in households or household food insecurity is one of the major underlying causes of malnutrition, a challenge that has led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to consider household food and nutrition security as a basic human right.
Kameeta said the food distribution programme speaks to the basic building blocks of a caring nation because it addresses hunger and poverty issues.
“Hunger is the lowest level of poverty, it is only logical that His Excellency the President, in the Harambee Prosperity Plan, tasked our ministry together with other key government offices/agencies/ministries (OMAs) to address hunger poverty,” said Kameeta in his key note speech at the launch.
“The establishment of food banks is one such way of addressing hunger, especially in the urban and peri-urban areas. Other programmes include improving agricultural productivity, school feeding programmes and the provision of food during natural disasters such as droughts and floods.”
The programme brings hope to the food insecured regions as findings from the pilot programme in 2016 proved that food bank intervention has a significant impact on household food security.
Findings from the pilot programme also showed that the food bank scheme is effective in addressing hunger, especially to beneficiaries with no formal employment, given the current socio-economic situation of the country.
The findings also noted that about 90 percent of the beneficiaries of the programme were food insecure before the food bank intervention and after the introduction of the food bank, 62 percent of the 90 percent became food secured.
The pilot phase which was an initiative by President Hage Geingob in the Khomas region, saw at least 15 519 households representing a total of 67 987 individuals who were benefiting from the food bank in the seven constituencies of Khomas region.
Kameeta said the launched food distribution programme had implemented recommendations from the findings of the pilot programme and it will see only those confronted by extreme hunger and poverty benefiting from the initiative.
“The ministry, in consultation with key stakeholders, has come up with more stringent criteria to ensure that only those confronted by extreme hunger and poverty benefit from the food bank initiative. The process of re-registering of food bank beneficiaries in the Khomas region has been completed,” he said.
“In the Namibian context, you should be regarded as poor when you go to bed hungry, when you drink dirty water from a well with livestock, when the nearby bushes are your ablution facilities, when you cannot clothe yourself and do not have a decent shelter to call home.”
Kameeta said the programme was evidence that government, through the various OMAs, remained committed to the maintenance of the well-being of the Namibian people.
“Consequently, the government, through all its development vehicles such as the 5th National Development Plan (NDP5), the Harambee Prosperity Plan, The Blueprint on Poverty Eradication and Wealth Redistribution is committed to the implementation of sustainable development programmes and initiatives; to ensure that we attain prosperity for all Namibians,” Kameeta said.