By Petronella Sibeene
Four civic organisations working towards alleviating rural poverty in Namibia yesterday received financial support to the tune of N$25 million from the European Commission.
The funds form part of the N$143 million of the Rural Poverty Reduction Programme funded by the European Commission through the National Planning Commission (NPC).
The Namibia National Farmers’ Union received about N$9.2 million.
The funds, according to the Programme Coordinator, Oloff Manjanu, will be used for the Hoodia Commercialisation and Poverty Reduction project.
hoodia is a succulent plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa. One of its species, Hoodia Gorgonii had its appetite suppressant elements isolated in 1977 as P57 and is made into dietary pills that are in high demand in the US and Europe.
The project, to take place in the Hardap and Karas regions is regarded as the first phase of a national project by which hoodia will be commercialised and developed into as new industry for the country. Some of the funds will be channeled towards other initiatives related to the indigenous plant task team as well as the succulent cultivation project together with the hoodia working group.
“We want to maximise production and involve community members so that they can also benefit,” said Manjanu.
Another beneficiary of the EU funds was the Rural People’s Institute for Social Empowerment in Namibia (RISE Namibia), which promotes rural micro-finance institutions. RISE received about N$3.8 million.
RISE will use the funds to expand its savings and credit sssociations programme aimed at creating a viable member-owned financial institution to serve the needs of the rural population.
The Namibian Development Trust received about N$5.6 million and according to the director of NDT, Ronny Dempers, the funds were received at an opportune time when the organisation with the rest of the world intensify campaigns under the banner, the global call against poverty.
The fourth beneficiary, Integrated Development and Nature Conservation received N$6.2 million. The organisation operates in the Caprivi and Kunene regions. It secures wildlife outside parks resulting in increased tourism in these two regions.
“The money will enable the conservancies to become sustainable. It will cover running costs and contribute to rural poverty reduction,” said project manager, Colin Nott.
European Commission Ambassador to Namibia, Elizabeth Pape, said the financing is aimed at stimulating rural activities hence improve the livelihood of the rural masses. She urged beneficiaries to use the funds for their intended purpose adding that the money comes from taxpayers in the EU countries as such, the EU office in Namibia is expected to give feedback or account for the funds.
Acting Permanent Secretary at the National Planning Commission (NPC), Sylvester Mbangu, on behalf of the Director General Helmut Angula, expressed gratitude towards the EC and their role in fighting poverty in Namibia.
He said the success of the projects will represent part of an emerging new relationship between Namibia and the civic organisations in tackling developmental issues.
“Government recognises that civic organisations play a vital role in providing links to local communities…and therefore it is to be hoped that these projects will strengthen the partnership,” said Mbangu.
Since independence, poverty reduction and income inequalities have been the main thrust of Government and yet more still remains to be done.