Food project makes a difference

Isaac Chikosi

With food security a critical topic. Communities across Namibia are working hard to ensure that they do their part. It is for this reason the Food is Free project was started in Swakopmund in 2015.

Namib Times took a closer look at progress with the project. The project’s key concept is to grow food and share the excess you don’t consume.
A discussion around the table between teachers from local schools ignited the idea some years ago. They were moved into action by the alarming number of children who sometimes arrive at school hungry.
“I find it extremely difficult to teach children who have to come to school every day on empty stomachs. Malnutrition creates an evil loop where students as a result of hunger cannot do their part in the education value chain. They cannot concentrate and cannot cooperate fully. You can have the best and most committed teacher, a well equipped classroom, but if your learners are hungry and under-fed they cannot concentrate and you cannot blame them for not giving their full cooperation”, explained Divan Mouton, a teacher at the Coastal High School. Mouton is one of the project founders.
After an agreement with Coastal High School’s principal, the team began with the gardens. However, challenges such as irrigation and pest control proved to be a stumbling block. At this stage sponsorship by Dunlop Zone for old tyres to grow tomatoes in, Omega Security in Walvis Bay for tools and Namport who sponsored netting to help keep away pests. These contributions keep the project going.
Mr Van Der Westhuizen, a co-founder of the project added growing food wasn’t going to be enough for success. Leadership and responsibility are needed too to keep the garden growing. We have systems in place. Older children for instance transfer the knowledge to the younger generations.
At the end of 2017, the project was handed over to the school. Since, this idea spread to schools across Namibia and also Botswana and South Africa.
The project continues to flourish. It is support the school’s soup kitchen. Here is a classic example of the power of every day people making a difference.

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