By Ester Paulus TSUMEB A three-day Regional Poverty Forum which began on Monday is taking place in Tsumeb to validate information with community representatives following a Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) research conducted previously in the Oshikoto Region. The PPA research which was conducted in 2005 by the consortium of Urban Dynamics and Desert Research Foundation, assisted by the directorate of Planning from Oshikoto Regional Council, aimed at assessing poverty, livelihoods and the well-being of persons in six constituencies of Oshikoto. The forum is expected to validate information with community representatives from the villages studied, to comment on the draft Regional Poverty Profile compiled and to prepare regional poverty reduction strategies based on the regional poverty profile in accordance with vision 2030. Officiating at the forum, Regional Governor Penda Ya Ndakolo said the government has identified poverty as a serious problem which should be tackled and addressed at any cost, as outlined in the poverty Reduction Strategy of the National Development Plan and vision 2030. He said the assessment found that poverty features prominently in the minds of people spoken to, although considerable efforts need to be made to develop and improve conceptual understanding of issues surrounding poverty. “The eagerness to address poverty in the region needs to be harnessed to develop capacities among civil servants to rationalize policies by planning and implementing integrated reduction programmes.” Ya Ndakolo stressed that government has a safety net in place, providing specific categories of the poor and vulnerable with support in the form of grants. Since most people, especially those living in rural areas, are not aware of the availability of this type of support, he stressed that attempts need to be made to provide such assistance to those in dire need. Meanwhile, the forum is expected to provide a platform for direct exchange of information between service providers and representatives from communities where the study was carried out. The assessment was conducted in Evale, Farm 6, Okaluwa, Okaonde and Nomtsoub in Oshikoto Region. The forum is expected to end today and is being attended by regional councillors, senior government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations and members of the community.