WINDHOEK, 29 iOCT (NAMPA) -
The government, through the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, has set 2025 as the year that Namibia should be poverty free.
As part of the recommendations made at the Wealth Distribution and Poverty Eradication Conference, participants made a commitment to meet the deadline for poverty eradication and inequality by 2025.
Reading out the recommendations at the end of the two-day conference in the capital on Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the said ministry, Ben Nashandi said participants realised that poverty eradication requires joint efforts by all government entities and the private sector.
The ministry will therefore without further delay spearhead the finalisation of a blueprint for such effort that will contain actionable plans to address poverty in the country.
The blueprint will contain plans for implementation, including the concept of countrywide food banks. Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Zephania Kameeta said earlier this month the ministry is in the process of establishing the Windhoek food bank in the Khomas Region, and will use it as a pilot for the other regions.
The building is envisaged to be erected on a piece of land between the Swapo Headquarters and the Katutura Red Cross Complex in Windhoek.
The idea of a food bank was initiated in 2012 after media reports highlighted how hundreds of people scavenge for rotten and stale food at dumpsites around Windhoek.
Nashandi further stated that participants agreed on a further review of an appropriate sustainable social safety net package, which will also include a revised Basic Income Grant (BIG) for vulnerable groups.
The BIG was piloted in the village of Otjivero in 2008, where a grant of N.dollars 100 resulted in a decrease in child malnutrition, school drop-outs, women engaging in transactional sex and poverty-related crime; and an increase in self-employment or profit generating activities, amongst others.
The Wealth Distribution and Poverty Eradication Conference also agreed that the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare should engage with relevant institutions on the feasibility of abolishing the loan system used by the Namibia Students Financial Assistants Fund (NSFAF).
"We have also made a commitment that given the multi-sectoral nature of poverty eradication, we are going to establish a multi-sectoral coordinating mechanism that will spearhead the coordination of poverty interventions with the focus on review, monitoring and evaluation," Nashandi said.
He added that the government should ensure that appropriate resources are provided for the envisaged multi-sectoral coordinating mechanism.
Nashandi further explained that the conference underscored the importance of addressing the poverty gap in the country, the need to invest in empowerment mechanisms for the people from access to finance, resources, ownership and skills, to basic services and engagement in income generating activities.
The conference also emphasised the importance of skills and education and the need for aligning vocational training to all regions. Agriculture is important and therefore investment in agriculture is needed to create jobs, Nashandi said.
"We have also agreed that the poverty eradication programmes we will come up with will need to be sustainable, economic, efficient and aimed at restoring the people's dignity while creating capabilities for those people," he stated.
The conference was attended by high ranking government officials such as President Hage Geingob, a number of ministers, officials from the various local authorities in the county, the youth and representatives of civil society organisations.
The gathering followed the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare's regional consultative meetings and a National Dialogue on Wealth Redistribution and Poverty Eradication in all 14 regions between 14 September 2015 and 01 October.
It was meant to engage communities and stakeholders in order to seek their input on poverty eradication strategies for Namibia.