WINDHOEK, May 20 — The streets of Namibia’s capital city Windhoek are bursting with children as more young people flock to the city from rural areas, running away from the serious drought that has hit most parts of the country.
The children whose ages range from as young as nine to eighteen years old have filled the city’s Central Business District where they beg for a living.
The situation in areas where they come from is so bad that most families will not harvest anything this year. The drought that has been dubbed ‘one of the worst’ in history has seen many farmers not only lose crops but also livestock.
According to government figures, over 780,000 people have been affected while over 30,000 cattle have died.
The devastating situation is what drove brothers Romeo (17-year-old) and Franz Goeieman (14 -year-old) to Windhoek from a small town that is 210km from Windhoek called Gobabis.
The brothers who walked about 200km to get to Windhoek said they moved because life was becoming very difficult at home.
“We were hungry at home, there was no food. Our grandmother is old and she cannot take care of us. We relied on the fields and since everything died we had to make a plan. At least when we beg we get money and food every day,” Romeo said.
Every day the brothers make their way to the street corner to beg for the day’s meal.
On a lucky day, the brothers can take home up to 50 Namibian dollars (about 3.5 U.S. dollars) that they use to buy bread and sugar.
The drought migrants have no homes in the city thus some have made makeshift shelters under bridges.
The two brothers sleep under a tree near a clinic in town which becomes very unbearable especially in winter.
Authorities on the other hand complain that some of the children end up turning to a life of crime and drugs.
“These children become adults while they are on the streets and end up turning to a life of crime. If relevant stakeholders do not get involved and come up with a permanent solution, this will become a very big problem,” said the police.
Currently, the Namibian government is trying to give assistance to affected communities.
The country’s president Hage Geingob earlier this month declared a state of emergency resulting in the government allocating 573 million Namibian dollars to assist drought-affected communities in rural areas.
The country’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare says it is aware of the increase in the number of street children currently roaming the streets.
The ministry said they are worried that these children will end up turning to a life of drugs. Last month the ministry launched the street children awareness month. – XINHUA