By Wezi Tjaronda
Resettled households on some farms in the Omaheke and Khomas regions are beneficiaries of a programme aimed at improving the livelihoods of the inhabitants.
The areas Donkerbos/Sonnelblom, Skoonheid and Drimiopsis in Omaheke, and Arovley in the Khomas Region, were chosen after a Spanish NGO carried out a preliminary assessment on resettlement areas of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement.
Desert Research Foundation Namibia (DRFN) and the non-governmental organisation, FCEAR, are implementing the project Livelihood Support Programme (LISUP), in collaboration with the ministry.
The assessment identified a need to support the households on the farms for them to be self-reliant and participate in the wider economy.
The situational assessment and participatory rural appraisal undertaken on four of the settlements assessed the quality of life, quality of infrastructure, livelihood strategies in the communities and potential diversification and development of livelihoods, including of the San who are the majority in some cases.
Programme Coordinator for the Omaheke Region Klaus Fleissner told New Era yesterday the programme started with action in May this year and is expected to run until November 2009.
The programme specifically wants to mitigate the adverse impacts of poverty on the livelihoods of the communities on the farms.
Donkerbos and Sonnelblom farms in the Rietfontein Block consists of 12 00 hectares with poor water. The three boreholes on the farms get water from one aquifer. Fleissner said the borehole was repaired to improve the water situation.
At Skoonheid, a settlement of 60 households has a three-hectare vegetable garden and a few livestock.
At Drimiopsis, close to 2 000 San are settled on a 2 700-hectare farm, and concentrated around the water point. The project will multiply seeds to be distributed for dryland production.
Seeds that the project will try out include groundnuts, mahangu, Bambara nuts, sunflowers and others.
Fleissner said due to the drought situation that hits the country almost every two years, it was realised that most areas are not suited for maize production.
“We want to experiment with mahangu because rain here is too marginal,” he said.
The project has three components that will see the beneficiaries improve their life skills, communicate and cooperate with service providers and improve their food security.
The focus of the life skills component will be training on human rights, general awareness of health and HIV/AIDS, environmental awareness and conflict resolution.
Fleissner said the component on food security would, among others, strengthen arts and crafts and gardening projects. Although these two were carried out at some of the project sites, production activities of arts and crafts stopped because of shortage of money.
A summary of the LISUP project also said that although gardening was an important activity and undertaken by all communities, resource constraints limited production and yields.
The component will also look at all aspects of production, training, design and marketing for crafts production.
For gardening, the project will have to address unfavourable water, unreliable seed supply, gardening equipment, soil preparation, limited knowledge and lack of access to production inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides.
Cooperation between farmers and service providers aims at putting communities at the centre of their own development by establishing Forums for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM), a concept that is based on DRFN experiences in the Kunene Region.
Through this, Hosade /Honeb said stakeholders and community-based organisations would improve the welfare of rural people by promoting sustainable management of renewable resources.
Fleissner said he hoped the project would be extended because two and a half year were not enough for the beneficiaries to get on their feet.