By Engel Nawatiseb ONGWEDIVA The provision of housing is a priority for the town council of Outapi in the Ohangwena region. The Mayor of Outapi, Matheus Ndeshitila, said his council has serviced 500 erven and allocated 20 separate erven to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) for the construction of housing units. He said his community has shown commitment to support the council’s programmes aimed at stabilizing the economy of the town, hence council’s decision to build houses and in so doing empower residents through ownership. “We want to keep our people in their town so that they can invest their skills and expertise in assisting with the development of Outapi. People without shelter have the potential to move to other towns which provide an enabling environment to live in.” He said although the town, populated by 4 500 residents, has high levels of unemployment, crime statistics are on the decrease. According to Ndeshitila, his council is promoting participatory budgeting to collectively identify community needs instead of enforcing decisions upon residents. “We started this process long time ago and it yielded the expected positive results. The housing need has also been identified through this process and all parties are happy to be able to coordinate efforts. The problems between councillors and aggrieved community members could be overcome if other towns follow the same trends as ours. As young as we (town) are, we are learning fast enough to accelerate development in the spirit of collectivity,” said the mayor. The town was twinned to Yinchuan, a City in the People’s Republic of China, last year August and subsequently signed cooperation agreements in the areas of agriculture, industrial development, cultural exchanges and sport. A high-powered delegation from that country is expected in the country towards the end of this month to pay a reciprocal visit to Outapi. Meanwhile, the Regional Councillor for the Onyaanya constituency, Henock Kankhosi, urged villagers to take developmental initiatives in their own hands and not to wait for the proclamation of their respective settlements before investing required labour. He made the appeal at the launch of a clean-up campaign at Onyaanya over the weekend. Kankhosi, also a member of the National Council, stressed that community members should clean their own environment and not expect Government and local authorities to do so. He told New Era that the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication has been approached to run a clean-up campaign in conjunction with the “Onyaanya” community. He stressed that Government and some identified NGOs are currently providing non-economic support to the villagers such as health care, formal and non-formal education, and family planning in addition to skills training. ” The governmental formal education often helps to reinforce the women’s domestic role while non-formal education on the other hand seeks to promote consciousness particularly amongst women about gender inequality so that women not only understand the causes of their oppression but also take steps to improve their rural conditions.” Kankoshi called on local business owners to support social-development activities that discourage the abuse of alcohol in the community. “Business people are benefiting out of community support and should therefore plough back their profits to teach them about the dangers of over-indulgence in anti-social trends. So far, the relationship that we enjoy with the business community is very sound, crime is a definite low,” he pointed out. The councillor told New Era that preparations for the 16th independence celebrations are well on track. The Deputy Minister of Finance, Tjekero Tweya, has been invited to address the community to mark the independence celebrations.
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