By Charles Tjatindi
Young people at Okombahe have embarked on a charcoal-making project that would provide them with much-needed income, as a way to deal with the soaring number of unemployed youth at their village. The project is expected to produce charcoal, which will be sold to charcoal trading companies in Okahandja and other places.
Although the project only started recently, its representatives are hopeful that it would turn around their fortunes in a village that has limited economic activities, hence the high unemployment rate among young people. The project is a joint community initiative and has 20 patrons. It came about through a recommendation by the Omaruru River Basin Management Project, which found that a certain tree type along the river basin limits the growth of other trees through an unusually large intake of water.
The sweet palm tree, as it is known locally is said to restrict water from reaching villagers by blocking boreholes in the area. It was therefore recommended that the tree, which grows along the banks of the Omaruru River, be cut down. Because the Omaruru River runs through Okombahe, young people here realised the opportunity to establish their charcoal-making project – the Eseb Prospis Project.
“We cut down these trees, and saw the trunks into small pieces like you would do when you chop for wood. We then burn these up in special large pots designed for such purposes. That is how we get our charcoal,” explained Ebos! Umub, one of the project members.
After production, the charcoal is packed in recycled 50 kg maize-meal sacks, making them ready for the market.
According to !Umub, they expect to produce as much as 10 tonnes of charcoal per month while the project is in its initial phase – a figure that could be doubled once they secure a permanent demand in the market for their product.
So far, the project managed to secure a supply deal with one charcoal selling company in Okahandja, while a few more sacks are destined for Leonardville in the Omaheke region.
“We hope to get more companies to sell our charcoal for use once we are firmly established. It could take a few months or a few years, but we are ready to take the risk. It’s the only thing to do to get rid of unemployment,” noted !Umub.