//Karas governor worried about dependency

Keetmanshoop-//Karas governor Lucia Basson is worried residents of the region will no longer want to work for themselves, but rather sit at home and wait for the government to provide their daily needs through food banks.

A cautious Basson said this during a consultative meeting with the Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister Zephania Kameeta last Wednesday, which aimed at discussing the way they would coordinate the programme in the region.

In principle, she welcomed the idea of a food bank, saying Keetmanshoop is ready to launch the program.

However, she expressed concern that while the program aimed at bringing positive changes to people's lives, it might also encourage dependency amongst the residents.

She worried that people would no longer want to work to put bread on the table, but would rather sit idle at home and wait for government.

She pointed to the drought relief programme, managed through her office, as a good example of dependency.

More and more people were flocking to her office to obtain food, which she said was worrisome as people were forgetting how to work for themselves.

"These are my people; I know my people, so I'm just afraid that this food bank will bring about dependency," she stated.

She said although the food bank programme aimed at combatting poverty, she considered it better to teach residents how to fish, rather than give them fish.

Basson further expressed fears over the sustainability of the program, and pointed out that the regional leaders have in the past tried to engage private companies to assist.

However, most of the time these efforts failed as most companies' headquarters are based in Windhoek, and this makes it difficult to approach them for help.

"Businesses here are not cooperating. Maybe they will change their attitudes now, but it's a problem because we even struggle to get donations of food items for the elderly," she said.

The region's first resident also called on the ministry to look further than urban areas, and said there were areas experiencing worse poverty rates than towns, and thus government should also cater to such areas in the programme.

At the same meeting Oranjemund constituency councillor Lazarus Nangolo said the food bank was a good initiative, but he was also sceptical, saying people should be empowered rather than just receive from government.

He said poverty was a problem in Namibia and should be addressed, and related that as a councillor he sometimes spends about N$ 2000 just buying food items for people that have nothing to eat at all, but again suggested that empowering people should be key.

He said many of the residents in the region were farmers and their livelihoods depended on farming.

It therefore, remained important to assist such individuals especially during drought, because this would also reduce the movement of people from rural to urban areas.

"We need to empower our farmers. This is their livelihood, and we can help them set up their own fodder fields so that they don't lose their livestock," he said.

The regional leaders despite some concerns, expressed their happiness about government launch of the food bank programme in the region, and pledged their support, and said they were ready to work together with the relevant stakeholders to make the programme a success

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia