Papermaking Project Soldiers On

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By William J. Mbangula ONANKALI A papermaking project for women here has demonstrated the usefulness of locally available resources when modern technology is appropriately applied. Located within the premises of the Onankali Community Trust, the Omahangu Paper Project is making paper from stalks and from millet leaves which is marketed throughout the country. Millet, known as Omahangu in the local vernacular, is mostly grown in the Northern regions. Traditionally the stalk of Omahangu is only used for housing (roofs or to put up a homestead) but with the modern technology it can be used for many other purposes. The Deputy Project Manager Silvia Amutenya said they were introduced to the project by expertise acquired through the RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Foundation in 2002. A group of 13 women and two men got training from an expert from South Africa on how to convert the stalks and leaves into useful commercial products. After completing the training, funds were made available by the British government. Since then the project has been struggling on its own to be self-supporting. “We are facing our own problems of lack of financial support and marketing,” Amutenya told New Era. Due to financial constraints the project has no transport to carry out its marketing activities in strategic centres like Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Oshakati, Oshikango and Tsumeb. Besides, it is also facing another problem of lack of stalks/leave hammer, a very useful tool that can make their work easier than now. So far it has some other strategic marketing points at Olukonda Nakambale Museum, a museum at King Shikongo Taapopi of Uukwaluudhi at Tsandi, Tulongeni project at Omuthiya, Cano Lodge in Keetmanshoop and Omaruru Souvenirs. The Africa Group of Sweden are regular visitors of the project. Another prominent marketing point is the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair where it has participated for the third time now. As part of the recognition of its work, the project has received two prizes from the Joint Consultative Council (JCC). One was the First Prize in Manufacturing, which earned them N$10 000, and another was the Best Innovative Entrepreneurs – Bright Idea. Some of the most innovative activities visible in their range of artistic works are the truly natural and colourful notebooks, gift pouches, conference folders, fridge magnets, bookmarks, stationary wallet, wrapping paper, homestead, mahangu, Etosha, guinea fowl, among others. Each product is available in natural red or blue colours with the design printed in white or black.