Integration Impresses German Mayor

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Mayor of Berlin in Germany Klaus Wowereit is highly impressed with the social integration of the people of Windhoek and described it as something that could be emulated by his own city. After visiting various sites during his weeklong visit here, the Berlin mayor expressed optimism that the road to strengthening the existing strong ties between the two cities looks promising. According to the cooperation agreement signed between the two cities in July 2000, these ties include cultural exchanges, sharing information and experiences on public administration, security and public order, business and tourism, sports, protection of the environment, youth exchange programmes as well as water and waste management. Yet what impressed Wowereit the most is how well integrated the city looks in all aspects of life. “We came here to gather first-hand information about the city. Integration is very important, not just between whites and blacks, but many different ethnic backgrounds. Here you are living integration and helping people in need,” said Wowereit, who arrived in Windhoek on Sunday at the invitation of the Mayor of Windhoek, Matheus Shikongo. Since the two cities’ twinning agreement six years ago, various projects and programmes have been initiated between the two. The Berlin mayor has so far visited many parts of the city including Katutura where he toured several projects and crÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¨ches for orphans and vulnerable children, as well as two high schools in the capital. He was pleased with the level of care and support for the disadvantaged. “There are very committed people for orphans and street children. Even though the projects are small, they still make a great difference even if you don’t have enough funds, but have the right people in place,” said Wowereit. On Tuesday, Wowereit also went to the Goreangab Reclamation Plant, where expertise from Germany is currently being used to conserve water and help Windhoek deal with its water resource problem. “This is a very pressing issue,” noted Wowereit, adding that he noticed that Windhoek also faces challenges of a growing population. Thirty percent of the city’s potable water comes from the Goreangab plant that was just recently revamped. Tourism is another area of cooperation where both cities are currently benefiting from each other. Berlin ranks third in city tourism after London and Paris and is known as an “international city of film” , an ideal place for film production. One of Berlin’s largest production companies is currently in Namibia for several filming shoots. Echoing the same sentiments, Windhoek mayor Shikongo said this long-term partnership would go a long way in the future. “I think ours is a long journey,” said Shikongo. In terms of security, members of the City Police will receive training from Berlin. Wowereit paid a courtesy call on President Hifikepunye Pohamba at State House yesterday. Besides meeting the mayor and the councillors of Windhoek, Wowereit had brief discussions with the Foreign Affairs Minister Marco Hausiku and the Permanent Secretary of Environment and Tourism, Dr Malan Lindeque. Wowereit will leave for Germany on Saturday.