By Hoandi !Gaeb MARIENTAL The Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Kazenambo, says government must ensure that poverty reduction forms the centrepiece of the preparations for the National Development Plan Three (NDP 3). Officially opening a three-day Poverty Forum workshop at Mariental in the Hardap Region, Kazenambo said the workshop was an important milestone in the poverty initiative and in preparation for the 3rd National Development Plan. “You know what the critical issues and concerns are. The question is, however, how we can address them and how we are going together in partnership in effective and demand-based action programmes.” He said all line ministries must develop action programmes for poverty reduction to prepare for NDP3. “Let us collaborate in helping the poor out of poverty by developing better plans and programmes and by improving the management of our services.” Referring to the importance of good governance in the poverty reduction process, Kazenambo said in the absence of good governance, all efforts will be fruitless and the poor will become poorer. He said good governance demands effective participation by all stakeholders and the people at large. Effective participation is informed participation and it is not possible to have such participation without improved government communication on the one hand and a free but responsible and accountable media on the other. “The media serves often than not, as a bridge between the various stakeholders and the people in general. It is therefore a duty and obligation of the government to inform the people of pertinent matters, such as the findings of the poverty monitoring systems, etc. A lot of information may be of no use if it does not reach the people who can utilise it to improve their desperate situations,” the deputy minister said. Kazenambo was of the opinion that despite major achievements in areas such as health and education, the country faces serious problems that hamper progress. He singled out the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and unemployment and poverty as the most prominent problems. Kazenambo emphasized the importance of collective action and collective responsibility in the fight against poverty. “The people must own up to the process of intensifying their fight against poverty. The government, civil society organisations and development partners can only facilitate the process. They can do this through, inter alia, providing guidance, mobilization of resources and the channelling of resources to identified priorities, but the rest of the work remains the domain of individual efforts and skills in exploiting the resources at the disposal of the people themselves to overcome poverty. “I think this is what the poverty reduction strategy aims to achieve. That is to address this fundamental challenge of finding ways and means to intensify the war against poverty through broad participation of our people in the process of development. The point is, however, to ensure that in their participation, the people are conscious of the potential of the resources around them, which they only need to exploit in the fight against poverty. “Empowerment is an effective means of increasing income and enhancing the human and physical assets of the poor. But empowerment also refers to the ability of people to shape their own lives and destiny. They cannot be dictated to, but on the contrary they can take control of their lives if they develop an appropriate outlook, or as it is commonly referred to, a mindset which enables them to take advantage of the available opportunities at their disposal to combat poverty,” Kazenambo concluded. The deputy minister participated in the workshop, which ended yesterday.