Being one of the poorest regions in the country, Kavango East region still lags behind in terms of infrastructural development, while many of its inhabitants live in abject poverty, including having to walk long distances to access clean water.
Rundu Rural constituency councillor Paulus Mbangu nodded in agreement that the unequal distribution of resources is what has made Kavango the poorest and this has immensely contributed to unemployment.
“It is one of the factors. When they give the budget to regions government ignores statistical data that is at its disposal which indicates that Kavango East is the poorest,” he said.
Mbangu said statistics of the national census survey of 1991 and 1993 showed that the then Kavango was the poorest, and the 1994 income and expenditure survey indicated the same. This was also confirmed by the 1995 agricultural survey as well as the 2003 and 2004 income expenditure survey.
“To alleviate poverty, let me give you one example of Rundu Rural; the constituency can create about 1 000 jobs if government was serious. We have a dairy farm at Uvungu-Vungu, it was built and left idle and it has become a white elephant. What is needed is just to do the final touches and create employment,” he said.
“And if government is not willing, we can be given the go-ahead to find investors to lease the facility because it is very big and can be very productive.” Mbangu indicated that government has green scheme projects in the region that need to be supported fully to maximise production and in the end create employment to ease poverty.
“We have Uvungu-Vungu, Ndonga Linena and Shadikongoro that are not being fully utilised due to one reason, because of Agribusdev which has departed from its own ethos,” he said.
“How can you be in Windhoek monitoring projects in the region and you are never there. If a person is ploughing at these projects and a tractor tyre bursts the driver will leave the tractor in the field and go write a letter to Windhoek where it needs to be approved to buy a new tyre,” he said.
Mbangu noted that when Uvungu-Vungu sell their produce the money goes to Windhoek but when they need to purchase or fix anything at the farm, finance approval is in Windhoek.
“Poor road infrastructure has also contributed to poor development which has also led to poverty in the region as people have no access to everything,” he said.
Kavango East Regional Council chairperson Damian Maghambayi said that a lack of information and access to roads are some of the challenges leading to consistent poverty in the region.
Maghambayi said in order to change the situation the government needs to equip the region with a budget that speaks to the demands of the region, and that elected leaders behaviours should be people-oriented and that will enable them to plan according to the needs of the people.
“I feel that one of the things that is blocking the region’s development is lack of access to roads in rural areas as those living there will not even have access to information, and those in charge of disseminating information won’t even reach the people there,” he said.
“In regard to that we can now see the inequality because why should it be that in other regions there are access roads all over but in some there are no access roads?”
Maghambayi stressed that the way of planning should change to respond to the poverty in the region. “Section 28 of the Regional Councils Act talks about powers and duties of regional councillors and it’s made clear that the regional council can plan for the region just like how the National Planning Commission is planning for the national development of the country,” said Maghambayi.
Maghambayi noted that sometimes although the regional council submits its budgets that are supposed to respond to poverty, central government doesn’t give enough and only focuses on the operational budgets of the council or ministries.
Maghambayi added that it was high time the region reviews as well as does feasibility studies to investigate what it is lacking, and if information is what is lacking then the leadership should look at information platforms that can accommodate communities, as information is power.
“The biggest intervention now is to craft a fresh regional profile looking at current situations so that as a region we can identify what is lacking now, and also to look at the lack of information amongst our people, what can we do and which of our people are lacking information,” he