A contingent of dairy producers has joined hands with Namibia Dairies to provide free milk to a selected group of schools and orphanages in a concerted attempt to push back the frontiers of malnutrition.
The project was initially meant to complement the presidential food bank initiative, but delays and glitches in it forced the producers to go it alone, project co-organiser Rina Hough tells The Villager.
“There are only 15 dairy producers that have felt for some time that they need to give back to the communities. At first, it started with the vibe that there would be a food bank and in the lack of that, in the last members meeting that we had in July, the producers said let’s do something in the meantime because if we wait for this we are not going to do anything,” she says.
In identifying which institutions has needy children and the disabled to start with, a careful selection were drawn from both rural and city areas.
“They asked us to look for organisations that are always looking for special needs for children. It could be under-privileged children, so we needed to have a look at that, and we identified six organisations, some in town and some in the rural to strike a balance. Some are needy, and some are disabled children,” says Hough.
These institutions are Dordabis Pre-primary School, Kingdom Kiddies, Early Intervention Community Support (El-Landri Trust), Huis Maerua, Dagbreek, Side-by-Side and Moreson School.
Hough says, “We gave these organisations’ list to all the members so they could have a look at it and they approved these six organisations to benefit from the donations in the next 12 months.”
She says every half a litre that a producer produces for every thousand litres is given to this good-will project.
“We had a bit of planning, to bring understanding to what was going to happen and make sure that the products are brought to the end user,” she adds.
The first batch of milk was handed over in October of this year, the second one will go out anytime soon, Hough affirms.
However, with many of these organisations having closed, nothing will be handed over in December, and the project will commence in January of next year.
“A lot of these organisations have closed, so we are sitting on a jam now for December, we will not do it in that month. I am still waiting for management and Namibia Dairies to tell me whether they would possibly want to identify a once off action for December maybe for institutions like Katutura Old Age Home and whoever we think,” she says.
On whether management will likely give this a nod, Hough says, “I am not sure if they are going to approve it.”
The milk producers produce commercially and are a part of organised agriculture as well as members of the dairy producers’ association, and therefore they have an agreement to deliver milk to the Namibia Dairies.
Namibia’s overall fight against poverty and hunger is part of the presidential Harambee flagship programme, and for this to come to fruition, private players have been called aboard.
According to the United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Fund (UNESCO), malnutrition is widespread in Namibia with one in four children under five years short of their age and underweight.
Malnutrition in children under six months, a rare occurrence in a breastfeeding population, is also on the increase mainly because of HIV/AIDS and inappropriate infant feeding practices.
Less than 25% of children under five years are exclusively breastfed and mixed feeding with complementary foods introduced as early as one month is common.