One region, 30 children dead within 30 months in one of the least populated regions of the country is alarming! We can’t begin to imagine how much more horrifying it would be if this statistic included information from all of Namibia’s 13 regions.
Does it mean that more densely populated parts of Namibia would report even higher figures? We hope not, because that would mean more than 400 children dying of hunger in two and a half years across the country.
For all our going into default mode and blaming government, or calling on politicians to ‘do something’ about our individual problems, this is probably one area where the state should be exonerated from being the cause of (or the main responsible party for) the problem.
Making sure children are well cared for is primarily the duty of the parents; the secondary care-givers are the neighbours as well as friends and relatives. Then, perhaps, comes the government as the provider of basic necessities.
Our information suggests that the government does its part in providing treatment and information during pregnancy to ensure a healthy child is delivered. We also know that some of that information emphasises how long a mother is required to breastfeed a child to somehow guarantee good nutrition and growth in addition to other care or food that it gives.
As well as feeding schemes at schools, the government also provides food and treatment for underweight children when its officials are alerted. However, some of the children almost immediately fall back into the same rut once released from government programmes. The message just does not seem to get through to everybody.
Government and the United Nation’s World Health Organisation statistics state that hundreds of thousands of Namibians go hungry and are poorly nourished, leading to many children having stunted growth.
“The Namibian child is at risk – malnourished, orphaned and homeless,” said Prime Minister Nahas Angula, who has personally championed a campaign for the improved food provision of children.
Angula’s concern, if we may take the liberty to paraphrase, is that starvation, malnutrition and undernourishment among children is an indication that Namibia’s future is in danger of withering away.
The obvious indications may be the death of children and others who go hungry. Less noticeable, however, is the fabric of society that is tearing. Many children are suffering because of parental neglect rather than a lack of resources.
To change, every adult must make the well-being of every Namibian child his or her business.