OPUWO: The community of the Kunene Region are against the call from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) that all orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the region should be brought here for existence verification.
Existence verification is a process used by the MGECW to determine if the child that is registered and currently receiving an OVC grant is still alive or had died.
The community’s unhappiness with that directive deepened following the death of a three-year-old OVC, who was brought to Opuwo for verification.
The child was run over by a vehicle and died on the spot on the main road of Opuwo on 30 August.
The accident was the second one involving OVC, following a road accident on 22 August in which a vehicle transporting children and adults from the Kaoko-Otavi village to Opuwo for the OVC verification overturned.
Nobody died in that accident.
According to community members, radio announcements were made from June this year by the MGECW, informing the community to bring all OVC to its office in Opuwo for the purpose of verification.
Failure to do so will result in their ‘cut off’ from the N.dollars 200 social grant per OVC.
The current process requires all OVC registered to be present and be physically seen by an MGECW officer.
Some community members had to undergo much hardship to bring OVC from as far as the Otjinungua village, situated about 300 kilometres from Opuwo, for verification.
Adults, mostly women, accompanying such OVC have to make sure the children eat and have accommodation.
The affected community members argue that officials of the MGECW are able to take such services to the people in the remote areas.
Approached for comment on Thursday, Principal Social Worker at the MGECW in Opuwo, Uzemburuka Tjituri, said his office was only following directives from the head office in Windhoek on how the verification process has to be conducted.
He agreed that the verification process is making the community suffer, as some of them sleep on the premises of the MGECW in Opuwo due to a lack of accommodation.
“Officials here are also concerned about the programme, because it is the first time people are called to the Opuwo office for verification purposes,” noted Tjituri.
He said in the past, verification was only done with school-going OVC, through requesting their progress reports from their schools, without them physically being brought to the office.
Tjituri further said that his office is well-equipped to carry out the verification in remote areas.
However, no official of the MGECW at Opuwo could provide the official document in which these directives were stated.
It was also not clear who exactly from head office gave the order.
Approached for comment, Chief Social Worker in the MGECW, Cecilia Muzile, told Nampa on Friday that there was no directive from head office for OVC to report in person to their offices in Opuwo.
“We usually verify OVC at nearby villages during holidays, and then our officials go to the far remote areas to do the verification there,” she noted.
The verification process is an annual programme on the calendar of the ministry.
This year’s verification process will end at the end of September.