Oshikoto Chief Regional Officer (CRO) Frans Enkali tells Paulina Moses, of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, about how the region is tackling development and the challenges that inevitably accompany it.
Paulina Moses (PM): What is the overall status of development in Oshikoto Region?
Frans Enkali (FE): Developmental status in Oshikoto Region is moderate. Our region is 87 percent rural and 13 percent urban. That is an indication that in terms of modern development, it qualifies to be moderate. It requires more investments but investment is coming in at a snail’s pace, because the towns and municipalities are constrained with financial resources. This hampers speedy development of the region. Lack of investment in some areas also leads to high rates of unemployment amongst our youth.
PM: What are the benefits and challenges faced by the regional council with regard to decentralisation?
FE: The government policy on decentralisation is to bring services to the people. We, as a regional council, are no longer bringing services closer to the people but to the people. Previously we only had two hospitals, in Tsumeb and Onandjokwe. Currently we also have a hospital in Omuthiya and various clinics that were established. That is service provided to the people.
What is challenging is the slow implementation of decentralisation, and services that are decentralised are constrained by resources. Although services are brought to the regional capital, it is still needed to take those services to constituency level, so that people can have services at their doorstep.
It is a challenge to provide services to the people without a sufficient and capable human capital. Due to a lack of universities and vocational training centres most of our out-of-school youth have nowhere to go to prepare themselves for the future.
PM: How impactful are rural development programmes?
FE: They are impactful in the sense that they are responsive to the community need, because it is up to the community themselves to initiate – the regional council is only responsible for creating an environment and to provide assistance to those projects that are regarded as sustainable projects. These projects are run by youth or women and also alleviate poverty within the region as well as job creation among our people.
PM: The majority of residents of Oshikoto are communal farmers. At what cost does development affect the livelihood of communal farmers and what strategy does the council have to ensure that the farmers are not badly affected?
FE: There are various stuffs that the council does to assist the farmers to get out of the poverty trap. Natural disasters hit sometimes and this year, what we do is provide support to farmers with milk and give them goats to farm with. Some farmers cannot afford modern tractors for ploughing and so we buy them donkeys to plough with.
We have cash/food for work and microfinancing for entrepreneurial projects recommended by the Constituency Development Committee.
PM: What percentage of inhabitants of the region have access to clean water and electricity and what is the council’s strategy to ensure that everyone has access to the above?
FE: 70% of the inhabitants have access to clean water. Water availability in terms of boreholes is regarded as access to clean water. We also embarked upon installing water pipelines in certain constituencies.
Given the dynamics of our population and our settlement patterns, it is challenging for the council to provide electricity to every homestead due to stand-alone homesteads. It is difficult when homesteads are far away from each other. But where we have a concentration of homesteads the region has tried its best to electrify those communities.
The main priority are government infrastructure such as schools as children need electricity to have access to computers and lights during studies. With the assistance of the Ministry of Mines and Energy the majority of communities closer to schools have been electrified.
We have electrified 60% of Oshikoto which was a difficult task.
PM: Several road projects have been planned for the region, including the gravel road between Omuthiya and Onanke. How important is road infrastructure to the development of a region and what is the status for the region?
FE: Road infrastructure is fundamental to development of a region. Take a school in the remote area of Omboto, should we require youth to teach there, these new employed teachers do not have vehicles to have access to the school. Because of the hardship, they will look for other employment at schools closer to the road.
Oshikoto is over 36 000 square metres but the road network was not made provision for before independence. The only visible road is the road between Tsumeb and Ondangwa. That is not sufficient. Simply accessing clinical care is also a challenge due to the undeveloped gravel roads. Sufficient roads will facilitate easy access to infrastructure and other services in the region.
PM: Housing is essential, with development comes the need for accommodation. Is the region prepared to accommodate the influx of migrant workers in terms of adequate housing?
FE: Housing has been a challenge in Namibia and not only to Oshikoto. When we talk about housing in terms of development we refer to housing in towns and municipal areas or housing in settlement areas where the region has full control. To provide housing in settlement areas it requires the area to be fully planned and serviced. It should have electricity, water and road network. Finance is the only limitation.
Mass housing unfortunately did not materialise in Oshikoto due to a lack of financial resources. When one applies for financial assistance, they are required to provide proof of employment, which they do not have.
Additionally, those in settlements are only allocated land on leasehold while financial institutions require a deed of sale. This becomes difficult for people who can qualify for financial assistance to receive home loans due to a lack of deed of sale.
PM: There is a great call for entrepreneurship in the country. How does the council ensure that it creates a fertile environment for SME development?
FE: The political will is there and the region is in support of youth and women who come up with ideas. The Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare has been providing equipment to upcoming entrepreneurs.
We have provided technical support to the community, be it through the regional council or line ministries. Our youth and women should up come with projects that are sustainable and able to close a gap in the market and add value to the raw material in our region.
PM: Hygiene is essential, as a lack thereof plays a role in the spread of disease. What is the status of rural sanitation for the region?
FE: It is going along with the development of other regions. We have been able to construct various toilets in all 11 constituencies. Oshikoto is one of the regions with a high rate of implementation when it comes to rural sanitation. Many of our people who are able have taken it upon themselves to construct their own toilet. We have people with disabilities and the regional council has constructed toilets for these citizens.
Access to water also plays a role with regard to constructing toilets, but for those with no access to water, we assist them with pit latrines.
PM: What is the One Region, One Initiative (OROI)?
FE: It is an initiative supported by the regional council. It goes for projects that venture into unique products that are available in the region. These products should be aimed at value addition. We currently have two projects under the OROI, one being basket weaving made from raw material from palm trees. Another is a paper making project. They transform mahangu straws into paper. It sounds modern but mahangu is very unique to our region and to transform the mahangu into paper is adding value to it. We have built a workshop for them and hopefully schools will use that paper and it can also be sold nationwide and internationally.
2019-05-31 09:31:17 2 months ago