Food banks for the poor not yet a reality

WINDHOEK: Nearly three years after Government’s attention was drawn to Namibians scavenging for food at dumpsites, the food banks it promised to establish country-wide have not materialised yet.

Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku at the opening of a three-day food and nutrition security workshop in Windhoek on Monday said the Office of the Prime Minster (OPM) is still deliberating with relevant stakeholders to solve the issue.

“The report was received with shock and disbelief by both government and public. Indeed, the report revealed the seriousness of food insecurity, this time in our urban areas. Following the report, the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities met and instructed the OPM to co-ordinate all stakeholders to search for a solution. Since that time, OPM and all stakeholders are still seized with deliberation on the implementation of several projects to re-dress the situation,” he noted.

The workshop was organised jointly by the World Future Council, the City of Windhoek, the City of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Hausiku referred to an incident in August 2011 when the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) showed women, men and children searching for food here at the Kupferburg dumpsite.

Hausiku commended the Windhoek Municipality, the private sector, churches and non-government organisation (NGOs) that have, and continue to play a crucial role in finding a solution for food security. The intention is to assist Local Authorities and Regional Councils to ensure that dumpsites are not accessible by people to avoid exposure to rotten food. At the same time, stakeholders have agreed to create outlets where food items from local retailers will be safely stored for orderly distribution to needy families and individuals, according to Hausiku.

All institutions serving needy people such as the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS), churches and others, have been listed to access food items from the outlets for distribution through their support programmes.

“The ultimate goal is to create capacity within local structures to face the challenges of urbanisation and food and nutrition insecurity. The task force here has done a great deal on the establishment of a food bank, community ventures for recycling activities, and training in basic skills,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.

Meanwhile, NRCS Manager for Humanitarian Diplomacy Rosemary Nalisa confirmed to Nampa on Monday that the society forms part of the food bank project, but that the initiative has not started yet.

“Yes, we are part of the project, but we did not start yet. We are still waiting on the OPM for directions on when the project will kick off,” she said.

This news agency reported in October 2013 that Bethanie in the Karas Region will be the first to start with a food bank aimed at reducing hunger and poverty in the country by helping impoverished Namibians to obtain food.

The initiative in the southern part of the country was supposed to be launched in December 2013.

Meanwhile, approached for comment, the personal assistant to the Governor of the //Karas Region, David Tiboth said the initiative is still ongoing.

“The Bethanie food bank initiative is still ongoing and the Office of the Governor in the //Karas Region is finalising the details around the project,” he added.