Food bank beneficiaries reduced

WINDHOEK The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has reduced the number of food bank beneficiaries in the Khomas Region from the initial 22,354 households to 15,158.

This was announced by the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Bishop Zephania Kameeta, when motiving the ministry's budget of N$10.3 billion in parliament recently.

Kameeta said the reduction was a result of the streamlining of eligibility criteria for the identification of food bank beneficiaries by the ministry, in order to cater for people who are most affected by hunger poverty.

In 2016 the government launched the food bank initiative as part of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) which has seen over 22,000 vulnerable people in the Khomas Region benefiting from monthly food hampers.

The food bank hamper, valued at N$550, includes a bag of maize meal, cooking oil, tinned fish, corned meat, beans, yeast, bread flour, sugar and a bar of soap.

For this financial year, Kameeta said, the ministry has allocated N$52.3 million for the acquisition of food parcels and N$15.2 million for the administration of the food bank programme.

Also, he said, during the 2017/18 financial year, the ministry managed to utilise N$79.7 million for the provision of food to identified beneficiaries.

Furthermore, Kameeta said, the ministry through the Multi-Disciplinary Research Centre (MRC) of the University of Namibia (Unam) conducted an assessment of the food bank pilot programme in Khomas Region. The results of the assessment confirmed the positive impact made by the food bank in the lives of many who could not afford food previously.

He said the ministry started with the process of rolling out the food bank programme to other regions of the country during the 2017/18 financial year.

The training of street committee members and identification of eligible beneficiaries were started in the Hardap and //Kharas regions based on the refined and streamlined criteria, he said.

The ministry will therefore continue with the cost-cutting measures to ensure that only those in dire need of food are registered, he added.

He said this process has already started in Khomas, where street committee members are reregistering beneficiaries using the new stringent criteria.

Kameeta says during the previous financial year the ministry received cash donations of about N$3 million and N$120,000 in-kind donations, mainly food items, which were channeled to needy people through soup kitchens, kindergartens and other charity organisations.

Also, he said, during the previous financial year the ministry donated food items to 20 welfare organisations and individuals to the value of close to N$200,000.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia