By Michael Liswaniso OPUWO Kunene’s Regional Governor, Dudu Murorua, officially opened a three-day Regional Poverty Forum in Opuwo last Wednesday, standing in for the Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Kazenambo. The aim of the forum was to analyze the participatory poverty assessment report, discuss the draft of a regional poverty profile and exchange information between service providers and community representatives studied, among others. The forum was organized by the Kunene Regional Council and facilitated by the National Planning Commission Secretariat (NPCS). Murorua called on all participants to work together and take the forum very seriously, citing that it is one effort towards the alleviation of poverty. “Let us not be the ones to affect our developments. For independence we said power to the people, for now we say development to the people,” he pointed out. He said people should use whatever services are at hand instead of sabotaging them and at the end of the day claim there is nothing available which, he said, was a major issue leading to a rise in poverty. “We put the train on fire ourselves and at the end of the day we say we do not have the means,” he cautioned. Kazenambo in the keynote address thanked the Regional Council for hosting the forum, saying the forum was very vital because it addresses poverty which he indicated is a major enemy disturbing development in the country. He said poverty has worsened, as can be witnessed from the high numbers of people without land and potable water, as well as the growing income disparities between the rich and the poor. Kazenambo noted that the regional poverty profile to be discussed in the forum was very simple, but had powerful ideas whose time has come. “They are, in fact, the Government’s efforts to set the terms of regional planning driven by the interests of the people on the ground. “There is a need to be more focused on the tangible results for the reduction of poverty and to venture more into partnerships,” he added. He called on participants to be able to map out the way forward in the fight against poverty, which he cited as a “protracted” struggle. “The major challenge is not the lack of understanding of the problems facing us; it is not the lack of knowing what needs to be done in order to get out of poverty, but rather, it is how to do it and how to do it in the most effective and efficient manner,” he said, adding that another challenge is how to empower poor people in the growth process which he said is another way that the majority of people can benefit and rid themselves of abject poverty. The deputy minister, who also emphasized the need for collective action and collective responsibility, repeatedly called on people to intensify efforts in the fight against poverty in his six-page speech. He further called on participants to put the needs and concerns of the poor at the forefront of the forum and assured that Government and other development partners would facilitate and provide guidance, mobilize resources and overcome common constraints, among others. Before Murorua thanked the consortium of SIAPAC, Unam and !Nara for putting together the report being analyzed, he also thanked the political personalities who agreed to take part in the forum. “Your presence is a clear sign of the total dedication of our most senior political leaders to lead the way – both intellectually and spiritually – in the struggle against poverty in this country.” Kunene Regional Council’s Acting Chief Regional Officer, George Kamseb, chaired the forum, which ended on Friday. A similar forum was also underway in the Otjozondjupa region. Other regions where similar gatherings will be held this week are Oshikoto and Erongo, while Khomas has scheduled its forum for December 4 to 6.