MCA Namibia produces communal land support materials

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WINDHOEK – Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA–N) has handed over hundreds of documents containing data and outreach materials produced under the organisation’s Communal Land Support (CLS) activity to the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement (MLR) in Windhoek last Friday.

The CLS programme forms part of MCA–N’s Agriculture Project and was funded by the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) with approximately N$ 87 million. The documents handed over in hard as well as soft copies include collected data on land parcel registration, village level land records, village maps, Traditional and Communal Land Board (CLB) training modules and manuals as well as information materials on the Communal Land Reform Act no. 5 of 2002 produced by MCA–N’s CLS team with a focus o gender equality and vulnerable groups. To date, Namibian women are still largely disadvantaged by traditional customs when it comes to land rights or inheritance, contravening the country’s laws on land tenure and rights. Thus, outreach campaigns were regarded as being of utmost importance to succeed.

As a result, the CLS team held 500 community meetings and produced 63 000 outreach materials, including posters and cartoon brochures in seven (7) local languages. More than 200 radio programmes were produced and 1 000 announcements broadcast, and a booklet on “frequently asked questions” provides easy to understand information about the land  registration process and communal land rights in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs).

Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Naruseb, who was represented by his Special Advisor Priscah Mandimika, praised the programme’s grassroots approach: “The MCA–N CLS project made inputs to policy issues such as the formation and administration of  group land rights, gender and protection of widows. This advocacy work was made possible because of being in direct touch with the masses and listening and understanding their plight, a way of working that I want the staff members of the Ministry of Lands to take forward,” he stated.

This was echoed by the MLR regional deputy, Marvin Lisao from Oshana Region, who emphasised that traditions in rural areas remain a challenge but that now there is hope: “After all the training with Traditional Authorities and advocacy work done by CLS, I see a faint light at the end of the tunnel and that we can overcome these challenges in the long run.”

MCA–N CEO, Penny Akwenye, commended the MLR for its exemplary cooperation and highlighted that CLS is “the only activity under the MCA–N Compact programme where the majority of participants are women.” She further put the activity into context with other activities under the Agriculture Project where MCA–N went “the extra mile”, such as the upgrading or construction of water–points and the provision of stud bulls to NCA communities to improve the bull–cow ratio of their herds.

CLS further developed a fully operational application tracker and upgraded the computerised Namibia Communal Land Administration System (NCLAS) into version 2 within a record time of six (6) months to unite data into one national land registration system.

NCLAS2 has the capacity to accommodate all existing records in the NCLAS and all future  records that might be generated with respect to communal lands. A total of 62 572 valid NCLAS records have been successfully migrated as well as 117 419 parcels.

Another key output is the refinement of current procedures, operations and systems that resulted in the production of the Communal Land Administration Manual (CLAM), which serves to guide CLBs on issues related to land tenure when carrying out their mandate.

The CLS component strives to address existing barriers to the effective and sustainable management and use of rangeland in the NCAs by improving the processes of verification and registration of land ownership and rights, especially those of women and vulnerable groups.

The activity was conducted in Kunene, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Zambezi and the two Kavango regions.

MCA–N is implementing GRN activities in the country’s education, tourism and agriculture sectors financed by the United States Government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to the combined value of US$ 304.5 million (N$ 3 billion) with the aim of reducing poverty through economic growth. Approximately US$ 51 million (more than N$ 500 million) is budgeted for activities in the Namibian agriculture sector.