OKONDJATU - Farm Uitkoms has undeniably proven that marginalised communities can become self-sustainable in terms of access to potable water for agricultural purposes.
This is unlike some government resettlement farms, which turned into shadows of themselves by lying idle and unproductive. The farm houses mainly marginalised Namibians, and lies some 160 km north-east of Okahandja.
Although the government handed over the farm in the Okondjatu area with a functional borehole, that source of water was insufficient to cater for the 3 000 families of Uitkoms. Besides government assistance, the farm has a trust fund to help the families survive and maintain the farm implements and infrastructure such as boreholes and a tractor.
The funds in the trust fund are derived from the proceeds of their livestock and wildlife sales, given to them by government for self-sustaining purposes. Through their trust fund, the community sold some of their livestock, and managed to install another borehole worth about N$50 000 this year. The community faced a scarcity of water before installing the second borehole.
This borehole is seen as a big relief since the residents now have enough water for household and agricultural production, such as for the garden at the farm.
They also used to spend a lot of money on diesel to pump water, until the community gained the knowledge and installed a solar panel.
“The government gave us a borehole. But we saw it could not accommodate all of us. On our side, we raised money from the 100 community cows as well as raised money to add another borehole to cater for everyone at Uitkoms. Our dream to install our borehole was realised this year, and we are happy,” chief Katae August beamed.
Secilia August welcomed the new borehole, saying there are a lot of positive changes now.
“The water is running. If you had come here the same time last year, you would have seen long queues of people with drums, desperate for water. But since we got the second borehole, there are no more queues. People have babies, and they used to go and ask for water to cook from other people’s homes,” narrated Ouma Secilia, as she is fondly known in the community.
Anna Sarises, who lives with her grandparents, said as young people, they couldn’t even plant any food, but now they have a community garden. She, however, said the youth need training and farming implements to increase agricultural production at the farm. “We can do it ourselves. We just need help,” she noted.
The community garden has cabbage, spinach and tomatoes, amongst other produce. They also have a tractor, which was donated to the community by the government for agricultural purposes. “We used to make bales of grass, and sell to surrounding farmers to make a living. The tractor is really helping us to make an income. We also use these grass bales to feed our livestock. We don’t get livestock fodder from the government; we are doing things ourselves, but we need assistance,” she continued.
The community is likewise making strides in livestock farming. August said government resettled these families with three cattle, and these have since multiplied to over 100 cattle.
For those struggling resettlement farms, the chief only had words of encouragement. He said although there are challenges, they must work hard to meet government halfway in terms of food security.
“We used to be beggars after many of us were thrown out of commercial farms by the owners into corridors. We never used to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But here we are, pushing towards development. So, for all those resettled families, they must work hard and become self-sustaining,” August urged.