GOBABIS - Omaheke Governor Festus Ueitele has exhorted residents of Omaheke to formulate innovative ideas to address the current drought crisis facing tens of thousands across the country.
Speaking last week during his state of the region address (Sora) he said the drought challenges currently faced by the country also presented opportunities to find innovative solutions.
He noted the recurrent drought strikes at the very base of food security and although the government through the Ministry of Poverty Eradication is working tirelessly to respond to the food security needs, the country needs to come together to be able to feed its citizens.
“This is a time to harness the full capacity Namibia has to offer to find solutions to youth unemployment and food security challenges,” stated the regional governor.
Using the pillars of Harambee Prosperity Plan, Ueitele highlighted the planned activities of the central government in the region and also presented a report on the previous year’s activities.
He reported that the agriculture department has implemented two projects, namely the Dryland Crop Production Project (DCPP) and Conservation Agriculture (CA) in the region.
The DCPP was implemented with the aim of improving food security at household level by providing subsidised services and inputs to communal farmers in Omaheke Region.
Furthermore, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has provided technical assistance to the government through resilience building interventions, targeting selected drought affected communities. An amount of N$4.4 million was availed to procure 360 metric tons of grass hay and multi-nutrient blocks to be distributed to drought-affected communities in Omaheke, Erongo, Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions. A total of 1 200 households will benefit through this initiative, of which Omaheke will get half of the portion while the rest will benefit 200 households each.
“It is with this in mind that we as a region are expected to be pro-active and to venture into mechanisms such as green schemes for food and fodder production. This will enable us to mitigate drought in our region and ultimately our country. Fellow Namibians: it is impractical for us to think that we should always receive handouts from good Samaritans; we cannot forever rely on handouts and the good will of others,” stated Ueitele.
Ueitele further reported that the Leonardville fish farm has been completed and is operational, and that they have already done a trial harvest of about 1.5 tons of tilapia fish from five of the six fish ponds. “The success of this wonderful initiative in a rural area of Omaheke Region, in the Kalahari Desert, is a result of collective commitment of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Omaheke Regional Council, Leonardville Village Council and the community of this great region.”
He added that due to the quality and quantity of underground water, the region is capable of producing 600 tonnes or more fish per year when using a water recirculation system.
He said aquaculture is one of the best ways to produce nutritious food for the people, create employment and earn income from selling of fish locally and internationally.
He urged the community to initiate activities which can generate income for themselves in their respective areas, so that they can create jobs and bring development to their areas, in order to collectively eradicate poverty and assure food security. “The drought we are facing now should be a learning curve that encourages us to diversify and opt for other alternative farming practices,” he said.
On job creation, the Witvlei charcoal processing plant has opened its doors, employing about 20 local people. It produces 300 tons of charcoal per month which is exported to SA and Europe.
In addition, the agreement between Social Security and the regional council has resulted in the implementation of two multi-million projects, namely, Gebedshoop San project at Otjombinde constituency and Vergenoeg Wood and Charcoal project at Kalahari constituency.
The governor has further consulted the Namsov Community Trust Fund, and agreed that the donated money can be channelled into collective projects than usual individual projects that have been financed the past three years.
The money will be used in partnership with the Gobabis municipality, Aminuis community, Nust and Agribusdev to examine the possibility of a green scheme, incubation hub at Aminuis, farm Newehoop and the municipality sewerage ponds respectively. “The aim is to produce fodder for our animals that will carry us through the drought and produce food for our people,” he explained.
Ueitele is however disappointed by the slow implementation of capital projects in the region and says this practice must stop immediately. He said people should not be deprived of goods and services because of bureaucracy and office politics. He therefore called upon all stakeholders to work together and collaborate in terms of information and resource sharing.