By Wezi Tjaronda Brussels Namibia and Luxembourg yesterday signed a project protocol agreement that will see two towns in the north-east of Namibia formalize their informal settlements and also extend their water and sanitation networks. Director General of the National Planning Commission, Helmut Angula, and Luxembourg Minister of Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, Jean Louis Schiltz, signed the 5-million Euro project agreement here in Brussels on the sidelines of the European Development Days conference that ends today. The project includes formalising the informal settlements of Katima Mulilo and Rundu and also the extension of their water and sanitation networks, to which Namibia will contribute 250 000 Euros. A briefing paper on the project indicates that decentralization is a priority and challenge for Namibia, as well as the necessary water and sanitation infrastructure in the northern regions of the country. The document also indicates that Namibia is one of the 10 target countries of Luxembourg, which has consistently increased its support levels to the southern African country based on the high HIV/AIDS situation and poverty and economic inequalities. Luxembourg agreed to continue extending grant assistance to Namibia through a new planning framework called ICP, covering the period 2007 – 2010 following a visit of President Hifikepunye Pohamba here. The ICP covering 2007 to 2010 is still under preparation and will be finalized at the end of this year. Funding through this programme amounts to 22 million Euros and will cover HIV/AIDS, vocational training, local development and technical assistance in development planning, and in banking systems. To consolidate past development and to maximize the impact, Luxembourg has decided to focus on the Kavango, Caprivi and to a lesser extent the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions. Signing the agreement yesterday, Angula said Namibia needed more international assistance for it to meet its obligations such as the Millennium Development Goals. Although Namibia has many challenges, high income inequalities, the high HIV prevalence rate and unemployment, Angula said, especially among the youth, were a concern. “The high unemployment rate among the youth is a cause for concern considering that this reflects the education system that we inherited,” he added. Namibia has identified main priority areas which include education, training and rural development. But after receiving satisfactory support from donor countries, including the EU on the implementation of the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP), the focus is now on infrastructure development in rural areas regarding roads and telecommunication, among others, Angula said. Other areas in which Namibia is looking for support, according to Angula, are HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, education, training, water and communication. The Luxembourg minister hinted that his country was happy with the progress Namibia has been making in economic development, to which Luxembourg wanted to contribute. Schiltz said Namibia was one of the countries which in the next decade would have serious prospects of major improvements, which would lead to the country taking charge of its own development. “When this happens, we look forward to changing our cooperation from development cooperation to focus on commerce and investments,” said the Luxembourg minister.
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