Namibia: 77 Percent of Marginalised Communities Affected By Poverty – UI/O/Oo

Deputy minister for marginalised people’s affairs under the Office of the Vice President Royal Ui/o/oo said poverty among minority communities currently stands at 77%, which includes widespread hunger among children.

“The economic status of the marginalised groups/indigenous minorities in Namibia, namely the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba, is still below the national average, with 77% unemployment and 68% poverty rates,” Ui/o/oo said in parliament last week.

“There have been alarming reports of malnutrition in children and some cases have led to death,” he said.

Due to a lack of funds, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare cannot convert the Marginalised Communities Special Feeding Programme into a monthly cash transfer. A directive from the Presidency through the Second Harambee Prosperity Plan requires that the Food Bank Management Programme and the Special Feeding Programme be converted into monthly cash transfers.

During his budget contribution, Ui/o/oo complained about the underfunding of the feeding programme, with the current deficit to meet the annual feeding target standing at N$158 million.

Ui/o/oo said the Department of Marginalised Communities cannot deliver on its mandate of looking after the interests of indigenous minorities due to budgetary deficits. Though he commended finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi for recognising the plight of indigenous minorities in the 2023/24 budget, Ui/o/oo said it is not enough to address the challenges.

“I am hopeful that the tripartite fiscal policy actions, namely pro-sustainability, pro-poor and pro-growth agenda will reassure the marginalised demographic of their government’s commitment to strengthen their social capital and protection nets. He also expressed hope that the government will drastically reduce the alarming percentages of the poverty and unemployment rates in these respective communities,” he said.

The San, Ovatue, Ovatjimba and Ovazemba are recognised as marginalised communities in Namibia. The San in Namibia number between 27 000 and 34 000.

The gender ministry, through the Department of Marginalised Communities is mandated to promote the integration of minorities through targeted programmes.

These range from human rights advocacy, education, agricultural projects and other livelihood projects.

[It is through the education support programme that] “we produced our first medical graduate”, said Ui/o/oo.

“We have also produced a science graduate who is in preparation to pursue his master’s of science in fuel cell and hydrogen technology. Students like these should be given special attention by our government and stakeholders as they are instrumental players in closing the skill gap.”

Ui/o/oo told parliament that his department needs over N$5 million for its education support programme.

With regards to the resettlement of marginalised people, he said the department needs N$20 million to buy at least two farms in the wake of marginalised people being evicted from commercial farms.

He cited the example of 93 people evicted from farm Arcadia in the Grootfontein district last year.


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