By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Government has embarked upon a series of nationwide conferences that would come up with strategies that will contribute to the formulation of a White Paper on Rural Development by the year 2008. Since the inauguration of the new Government last year, the Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Rural Development had rural development added to its initial portfolio and thus all these efforts are designed to look at restructuring. The two-month long nationwide rural development conferences in all the 13 regions will serve as a platform where issues related to this programme will be discussed and ideas shared on how best the ministry can incorporate and promote the new task of rural development. According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Erastus Negonga, the outcome of these conferences will form part of the contribution to the National Conference to convene next year, followed by the formulation of the White Paper on Rural Development by the year 2008. Rural development is central to the eradication of poverty, ignorance and disease. Given that, the ministry has been busy restructuring its operations to provide a relevant structure for the programme. This programme, said he, is about an efficient service delivery of qualityeducation, health, rural roads, potable water, reasonable infrastructure and decent rural housing. “Regional conferences on rural development are aiming at bringing together all stakeholders to render workable strategies compatible to specific regional realities, values, norms, demands and opportunities,” he said. The effective implementation of this programme, the Permanent Secretary added, is based on the premise of a sound people, private and public partnership. In this effort, regional councils are placed to coordinate, facilitate and promote rural development strategies to their logical results. Last month, President Hifikepunye Pohamba when addressing senior government officials reiterated the need to expand and develop rural areas in order to curb the increasing rural-urban migration. According to the president, “services such as access to information, e-governance and micro-credit facilities must be introduced to rural communities and the provision of education and healthcare must be strengthened”. Liaison and Public Relations Officer in the Ministry Frans Nghitila yesterday told New Era that the meetings will help the ministry know how to define rural development and formulate clear strategies on how this programme should be advanced to address the socio-economic imbalances in line with the National Development Plan 3 and Vision 2030. “The overall objectives of these conferences are among others: to reach an understanding of key responsibilities and aspects and role players in rural development,” he said. This will also provide an opportunity for wider consultations with various stakeholders at regional levels, where they will address issues relating to the common objectives, targets, priorities and programmes for rural development including a need to identify available resources for this work. Participants will also deliberate on ways to facilitate the implementation of rural development programmes with various stakeholders such as line ministries, regional councils and local authorities. The expected outcome will include a document defining key problems, proposals of strategies and programmes to address and promote rural development. At least 100 participants are expected to attend each conference. On Monday, the conferences were officially launched in the Kavango and Karas regions.
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