One Nation community members unhappy with Food Bank

12 Dec 2018 14:50pm
By Linea Dishena and Shelleygan Petersen
WINDHOEK, 12 DEC (NAMPA) – Disgruntled community members from the One Nation informal settlement in Windhoek claim nepotism and favouritism in the distribution of food items by the Food Bank.
One such resident, 32-year-old Nelitu Muronga, who makes ends meet through collecting and selling second-hand bricks from dumpsites, told Nampa in a recent interview that the Food Bank initiative only benefits a selected group of community members.
“I applied twice for the food items yet I have received nothing since the distribution kicked off in One Nation. I do not understand why as I am a father of five and jobless,” he said.
Muronga, who earns N.dollars 150 on a good day, thus called upon the management of the committee to audit the street committee to ensure that everyone eligible benefit from the initiative.
Another resident, Laimi Erasmus, an unemployed mother of two, concurred with Muronga’s sentiments that the Food Bank in their community only benefits those chosen through preference and not by merit.
She applied three times to become a beneficiary but did not qualify.
“My neighbours, who are in the same situation as me received food. However, I am left out,” said Erasmus.
Community leader, Paulus Hangala confirmed the allegations, saying he received complaints that in some cases a community member would benefit in one month but not the next.
“I do not really understand why people of the same calibre do not equally qualify. However, the process is handled by a street committee,” he stated. The committee identifies beneficiaries.
In an interview with Nampa on Wednesday about favouritism and nepotism within the street committee, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Esther Lusepani said when the Food Bank initiative kicked off in 2016, the registration process was handled manually with the criteria that only households earning less than N.dollars 400 per month qualify.
However, there were many challenges with the standard income as some households have more than five people, while some community members who did not qualify were on the list.
“The ministry saw the need to revise the registration process and launched the SCOPE operating system in November, which replaced the paper-based manual system of registering beneficiaries,” she said.
Lusepani noted that SCOPE, a partnership initiative with the World Food Programme, is a software digital management information system that will aid the ministry in the registration of beneficiaries, the process of distributing food parcels as well as in reporting, monitoring and evaluation.
“The system will ensure that only those that have been registered and are eligible will benefit, as the information of the beneficiaries will be displayed through a biometric system, doing away with the loophole of unqualified people benefiting,” she noted.
The PS added that when the initiative started, a total of 23 000 beneficiaries were benefiting within the Khomas Region.
However, with the revised system a total of 15 000 recipients have been identified thus far, including the Tobias Hainyeko Constituency under which the One Nation informal settlement falls. Registration is ongoing.
According to the new revised criteria, households that qualify for assistance are those that have no permanent income, established businesses and persons not already on social, war veteran, disability and old age grants.
Special cases may be considered based on the household circumstances in relation to pensioners with more than three dependents in the household, middle-aged persons who are unemployed with more than five dependents, and middle-aged unemployed persons on antiretroviral or other chronic medication with more than five dependents in the household.