Fate of Omaheke’s San in the spotlight

Welfare ministry explains food aid

17 November 2021 | Social Issues

Windhoek • [email protected]

The ministry in the presidency responsible for gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare responded to questions about the condition of San members in the Omaheke region during a recent meeting at Gobabis.
The meeting was held “to investigate complaints lodged at the office of the Vice President”. The complaints were originally made by the San deputy chief, Joseph / Gomoseb, who was dissatisfied after the meeting that the attendees had not been listened to and that their complaints had not been addressed.
On his way home on foot, / Gomoseb had been attacked with an iron pipe. He says he still could not report the case because the police in Katutura, Windhoek, Okahandja and Gobabis refuse to do so. He was also not medically examined, because the state doctor to whom he was taken, merely filled in "healthy" on his report.
However, the ministry said it was unaware of the attack, which apparently also left a woman with knife wounds to receive treatment on Gobabis.
According to the feedback, issues of land and relocation needs, education and language provision, project and life support were discussed.

Consultative action
"The meeting was part of our consultative action, in which we informed the vice-president about the problems facing marginalised communities, and made recommendations for solutions," a statement read.
A report will be prepared for the vice president's office.
According to the ministry, officials from the ministries of education as well as land and resettlement were present, along with Omaheke's communal land council, the governor's office and the regional council, with traditional heads of government responsible for the San communities in Omaheke. Specifically, leaders of the Ju / ’hoansi, Naro, # Au // eisi and! Xoo San were also present.
At the meeting, the ministry also shared details on food aid for vulnerable San households in the region. Officially, 4 876 San households receive three bags of 10 kg maize meal, three x 750 g of soy mince, two bottles 750 ml of cooking oil, one 2 kg sugar, a 500 g pack of salt, one 500 g can of red beans and a 600 g of instant maize porridge. These foods are distributed on a regular basis, according to the ministry, "or when food is available" – this despite complaints that San households have to survive for months without food aid.
"Due to Namibia's economic challenges in recent years, as well as the detrimental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry has had to make significant budget cuts, which has a significant impact on its operating expenditure budget," the ministry said.

Smaller parcels
Asked why the parcels are so much smaller than what is given to food bank beneficiaries, the ministry replie=d that the nutrition program for fringe communities is much older than the food bank, which only started in 2016.
Furthermore, the ministry acknowledges that not all San people have national identification documents.
"To address this challenge, the ministry has made it a priority and is working closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security on a targeted approach specifically for these communities to register and provide each identified San member with national documents,” the ministry said.

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