by Tirivangani Masawi
WHDHOEK, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Namibian informal traders who are struggling for a delicate balance between finding an alternative means of survival amid a COVID-19 imposed economic lockdown by government are breathing a sigh of relief after being given access to a 750 Namibian dollars (42 U.S. dollars) Emergency Income Grant (EIG).
The EIG launched by the Namibian government on good Friday is meant to cushion informal traders who lost their source of income to inactivity during the lock down.
Some of the informal traders in Namibia survive from hand to mouth through selling of vegetable wares including tomatoes, onions and fruits on the streets but the lockdown has left them unable to go on with their daily trade.
A survey by Xinhua in the informal settlements of Windhoek showed that while other informal traders were still going on with their daily routines others had seized operating in conformity to the governed directive.
Penda Simon (41) an informal trader in the Hakahana informal settlement in the high density of Katutura in the capital Windhoek said life has not been easy for her since government imposed a lock down two weeks ago but she continues to sell her fish and chicken bones so she can sustain herself.
She said despite hearing about government releasing the EIG she is still not aware how she can claim her share of the loses from the government as communication is still filtering through to the ordinary folk.
"We heard that government will be giving us money to assist us with the loses we incurred during this lockdown but I don't how to access this money In the interim I continue to sell whatever stock of fish and chicken that I have to my customers. If they want they will buy but business is not the same. Maybe when we get that money we will manage," she said.
Her sentiments were also corroborated by 34 year old Linekela Nafenongo who survives from selling dried vegetables.
"We were told to stop selling our products but if we stop selling what do they think we will eat. Maybe if they give us this money they announced on radio we will rest. I know we will be given 750 Namibian dollars but that also is not enough to sustain our livelihoods because its way less than what we earn weekly. Although it's little it's a start and we hope the lockdown finishes as soon as possible," she said.
A 26 year old Johana Markus who also survives by selling meat in Goreangab area of Katutura said its business as usual for her despite the lock and any additional grants from Government will only but supplement her current income.
"I am very happy we are getting this grant from the government but well that still does not change what I do as it's not enough. I also cannot stop selling my meat in this lockdown because I have a big family to take care of. I have three kids and I also take care of my late brother's children so I cannot afford not to work. If we get the grant from government it might still come shot of out weekly needs at home," she said.
Namibian Minister of Finance Ipumbu Shiimi said the EIG is meant to primarily cater for the informal workers whose mince of living have been disturbed by the lockdown. Shiimi also said although it was a poultry figure it will go a long way in making sue life is normal for the affected.
"This is not meant to over everything but it will go a long way in helping those affected," he said.