Over the last 31 years of independence, the Omusati region has benefitted immensely from the decentralisation programme implemented by central government, which is aimed at bringing services closer to people.
According to the population and housing census of 2011, Omusati is the third highest populated region with 243 166 inhabitants.
Chairperson of the regional council Andreas Shintama stated that although the region has benefited greatly from governmental development projects since independence, a lot still needs to be done for the region and country at large to achieve the desired level of development.
He said that the region will continue to do its part in contributing to the country’s GDP and economic growth, especially by unleashing its agricultural potential more.
“Apart from providing the much-needed employment opportunities for the residents of Omusati, local authorities have brought about numerous developmental aspects to the region. They enable people to dwell in modern housing structures and access several humanitarian services, such as health and education, in the same locality. Employment opportunities are not only provided to those employed in the regional and local authority structures, but also to those who get contracts to construct services infrastructure in local authorities and settlements, funded by the government,” he said.
Shintama unpacked that various government offices, ministries and agencies were established to improve service delivery in the region, such as the ministries of finance, agriculture, education, information, gender, defence, works, home affairs, labour, youth and sport as well as health.
To improve health services, government upgraded four hospitals in the region to the district hospital level, namely Outapi, Okahao, Tsandi and Oshikuku. “New health centres were constructed in Okalongo, Onesi, Omahenene and Ruacana, while several health centres and clinics were also built across the region in different constituencies. Indira Gandhi health centre in Okahao constituency is one example of those health centres built in the region after independence,” said Shintama.
In the education sector, he said that most of the new schools such as Ruacana High School, IK Tjimuhiva SSS, Ombuumbu JS, Otjihozu CS, Shoopala CS, Onegumbo SSS, Onawa SSS, Omakange Primary, Olariki Kaulukeyi Primary, Outapi Primary and Omakuva Primary, were also constructed after independence.
“The renovation of old schools and the construction of new schools in the region has subsequently brought an improvement in the academic results, more so at the exit levels, with the region and some of its schools constantly ranked amongst the best performers in the country. This means the region has been supplying a reasonable number of students to institutions of higher learning in the country and abroad, who eventually graduate to take up important positions in various industries,” said Shintama. He added that the region also has institutions of higher learning, such as Unam Ogongo campus and the Namibia University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) branch that mainly caters for distance students.
There are also vocational training centres in the region, such as Nakayale Vocational Training Centre and DAPP Vocational Training Centre that supply various industries with competent graduates every year.
“Ogongo Agricultural College was incorporated into the University of Namibia after independence and now it offers up to degree level qualifications in environmental and agricultural fields. Students specialising in crop science through Unam, for example, are trained in Omusati. This contributes immensely to the human capital development that our developing economy needs,” he mantained.
On infrastructure, he said the region has one of the best road networks in the country of which some are constructed or upgraded to bitumen standard, including the Outapi-Omafo, Oshakati-Okahao, Iitananga-Omakange, Ruacana-Kamanjab, Oshikuku-Okalongo and Oshikuku-Elim roads.
“There are also several gravel access roads networks, which facilitate movements of people and goods across the region. The quality road networks built in the region attract investors to the region and enable the inhabitants to access various service facilities, such as shops, hospitals, schools and churches, with ease,” he stated. Shintama further emphasised that to improve the socio-economic conditions in the region, the government has electrified multiple places through the energy ministry’s rural electrification programme. This has since seen many rural schools electrified. He added that the electrification of schools has improved the learning and teaching environment as the school can incorporate the teaching of information and communication technology (ICT), and make use of electronic equipment such as printers, fax, projectors and internet connection. “The teaching and learning time at electrified schools could be extended. Many health centres and clinics in rural areas were electrified through the same programme. This has improved the health standard in the region as electricity is not only used for lighting in health facilities but also for powering specialised health equipment that is used to care for patients,” he added.
Another area that has received the lion’s share of the government’s social investment in the region is the provision of water and basic sanitation in rural areas. Water and sanitation have a direct bearing on community health hence the government has, since independence, constructed water and sanitation infrastructure in the entire region.
“In some constituencies, such as Ruacana, Okahao and Otamanzi, where potable water pipelines networks did not reach the entire constituency, boreholes were erected to ensure that communities have access to potable water.”
The regional council chairperson explained that the government has also established the agricultural extension head office in Outapi and satellite offices in all constituencies.
The government has invested more in Etunda and Omahenene irrigation projects, which supply vegetables and seeds respectively, but there is still room for improvement.