We demand monthly fish parcels for every Namibian household to end the hunger crisis

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Due to the government-imposed restrictions under the Covid-19 state of emergency regulations, many Namibian households have lost their main source of income. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs over the past few months, while hundreds of businesses have already closed down due to the collapse of the economy.

We have had worrying reports from social workers that a number of children have been taken up in Swakopmund State Hospital in recent days because their families are now totally destitute and can simply no longer afford to feed them.

On 25 May, we received tragic news that a woman from Arandis died of hunger a day after being taken up at Swakopmund State Hospital, leaving behind two small children.

It is tragic and unbearable that our people should die of hunger. We regard it as a form of torturing the poor and we fear that the hunger crisis will worsen unless we tackle it with great urgency to avoid the further loss of life.

There is now an unprecedented hunger crisis and the situation in our communities is becoming increasingly desperate. We are informed that there is a large amount of fish being held in cold storage in Walvis Bay.

In terms of the Constitution, all the fish and marine resources of the country belong to the Namibian people.

We therefore call on the government to:

  1. Immediately authorise and fund the distribution of monthly fish parcels to all households affected by the lockdown.
  2. Ensure that a significant portion of all fishing quotas issued by the government be used to supply fish parcels to Namibian households, at least until the end of the state of emergency.
  3. Lift the restrictions on subsistence fishermen and women to allow them to return to the beaches to catch fish from the shore for household consumption.

While the government has so far prevented the loss of life due to Covid-19, we are now in danger of losing many of the most vulnerable people to the scourge of hunger and starvation, something that is entirely unnecessary and avoidable, given the vast fish resources available in Namibian waters.

You will be aware that chronic hunger weakens the immune system and raises the risk of disease proliferation, meaning it will undermine the fight against Covid-19.. 

You will also be aware that millions of people around the world consume fish caught in Namibian waters on a daily basis while the Namibian people go hungry. CNN reported some time back that Erongo Fishing Company alone supplies about 8 million people around the world with Namibian horse mackerel on a daily basis.

It is a tragedy that a growing number of Namibians, who are the legal owners of the country’s marine resources, are chronically undernourished and on the brink of starvation. It must surely be considered a crime of treasonous proportions to ship abroad the bulk of fish resources while the citizens of the country go hungry.

Therefore, we call on the government to give to the Namibian people what belongs to them. We urge the government to combat the hunger crisis by at least allocating  sufficient fish parcels to the poor, the elderly, the destitute and the needy.

It is the right thing to do, and time is of the essence. The government has the legal authority and moral responsibility to ward off the famine that is ravaging our communities by any means necessary.

It would forever tarnish the legacy of this administration if it were to stand by and watch Namibia’s people perish in their homes from hunger while vast amounts of fish are shipped abroad for the benefit of a few corporations.

We urge you to show moral courage. You are in a position to stave off the hunger crisis, to save many lives, to rescue from famine our people who are in desperate need of care and sustenance. Act now before it is too late.