By Anna Ingwafa
The Poverty Profile launched last week by Oshana Region at Ongwediva presented undisputed evidence of how poverty negatively impacts on regional development, based on a village level participatory poverty assessment.
The poverty profile aims to bring together the voices, experiences and perspectives of poor men and women residing in Oshana.
The Oshana Participatory Poverty Assessment was undertaken from January 2005 to March 2006 following the completion of a two-week fieldwork exercise in six villages and informal settlements drawn from six constituencies in the region.
The villages are Omakulukuma informal settlement in Ondangwa Constituency, Okamukwa in Okaku Constituency, Omukandu in Uukwiyu Constituency, Ongenga in Okatjali Constituency, Onaushe in Uuvudhiya Constituency and Uupindi informal settlement in Oshakati West Constituency.
The research found that participants from the six different participating communities identified problems that needed urgent attention.
Poor health services ranked the highest. “There are currently no clinics in or nearby any villages. In some instances, there are clinics within walking distance, but most are between ten and twenty kilometers away.
These distances are extremely far for ill persons to walk,” says the report.
“During the rainy season because of flooding, it becomes difficult for them to reach many villages. The problem is compounded because this is at a time when risks of contraction of illness such as malaria are higher,” the report added.
Poor road infrastructure came second in the participatory assessment as participants complained about the absence of tarred or good gravel roads to and in villages.
All villagers depended on these roads to reach schools, clinics, churches, pension pay-out points, relatives and shops. It was reported that most existing roads consist of sandy tracks and paths and travel becomes extremely difficult during the rainy season because of flooding and the numerous Oshanas in the region.
HIV/Aids, unemployment, poor education, alcohol abuse, lack of sanitation, hunger, lack of land/poor soils, lack of electricity and poor police services are some of the problems in Oshana that need urgent attention.
On a positive note, the research found that 97.4 percent of households in Oshana have access to safe drinking water and only 2.6 percent of the region’s population relies on water resources that are unsafe, compared to its neighboring Omusati Region where access to safe drinking water is a major challenge.
Despite the challenges the region faces, Oshana Governor Clemens Kashuupulwa at the launch singled out that his region has strived to uplift the economic status of its inhabitants to meet its development goals of job creation.
“Also, great successes were made to promote the welfare of the region’s people. It has registered more than 9 000 children orphaned as a result of HIV/Aids and under 14 years who lost one parent, and more than 1000 who lost both parents, for social grants,” he said.
The governor noted that the region is committed to create awareness to reduce HIV/Aids.
The poverty profile action plan has identified possible ways to improve the situation so as to create favourable conditions that aim to reduce poverty in the region and thereby to work toward the attainment of the economic goal – the utilization of national resources to improve food security and livelihoods by promoting sustainable land management practices, tourism, agriculture, forestry, trade and industrial development.
Kashuupulwa stressed that as stakeholders in the development process of Oshana: “We are here to share the way out to reduce poverty in our region and to rededicate ourselves to the implementation of our development goal to achieve our objectives, the development of our region in general so as to improve the living standard of our people.”
Oshana Region is located in north-central Namibia. The neighboring regions are Omusati in the west, Ohangwena in the north, Oshikoto in the east and Kunene in the south. Oshana is the smallest of Namibia’s thirteen regions.
With a land surface area of 5,291square kilometers the region represents a mere 0.6 percent of the land surface area of the entire country.
The southern part of Oshana consists of an area west of Etosha Pan within the Etosha National Park. The land surface area in the park (which includes Okaukuejo) that falls within Oshana represents almost one-third of the region.
Oshana is part of the vast Owambo basin which straddles the border with Angola and is dominated by an extensive and intricate network of (oshanas) or shallow channels, known as the Cuvelai system.