By Petronella Sibeene
The empowerment of women and the rural poor in Namibia continues to attract efforts from development partners as they pool financial resources for the upliftment of the underprivileged.
Just recently, Women’s Action for Development (WAD), an organisation that has empowered thousands of rural and poor Namibians through training in different fields, tabled its 2008 budget of N$4.5 million availed by different donors.
The amount, the biggest ever since the establishment of the organisation 14 years ago, will be used for training a targeted 5 000 unskilled and unemployed people across the country.
At a ceremony on Thursday, the Spanish Ambassador to Namibia, Maria Victoria Pliego, handed over a cheque of N$2.4 million from the Nepad-Spanish Fund while WAD’s main donor Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung gave a cheque worth N$1.5 million.
The Old Mutual Group as part of its black economic empowerment programme gave N$446 000, while Namdeb Diamond Corporation handed over a cheque of N$150 000.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation sponsored N$24 000, while Rennies Travel Namibia handed over N$20 000 with the Skorpion Zinc Mine and the Exxaro Mine giving an amount of N$20 600.
British bikers Maurice Summers and John Campbell who visited Namibia in September 2007, felt the need to contribute N$3 700 to the upliftment of Namibian poor, particularly the Ovahimba people.
WAD Executive Director Veronica de Klerk says her organization’s budget has in recent years substantially grown and WAD’s ability to responsibly utilise the funds has won the organisation confidence from both international and local donors.
“It remains the great responsibility of all NGOs in Namibia to ensure that they utilise donor funding in a transparent manner, and in so doing contribute to secure continuous goodwill from donor countries and local corporates for the benefit of the rural poor,” she added.
She equally cautioned fellow NGOs that donor funding has a nasty way of drying up at a time when it is least expected and thus NGOs in Namibia should always work towards becoming self-sustainable.
“Donor funding should be regarded as merely kick-start money to get us going … let’s therefore, as dignified Namibians, see donor money in the right perspective and use it while we have it to uplift ourselves – but never to develop a dependency on it,” she added.
Apart from its traditional training activities, WAD this year intends to train men and women who would work together with regional councils to become potential trainers or facilitators through the establishment of “Community Voice ” bodies.
With the aim to complement efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment in the country, the number of community voice members will equal the number of constituencies in a particular region.
The training schedule for 2008 introduces new training areas such as hospitality training, housekeeping training, mat weaving, brick-making and laying, the establishment of pit latrines, upholstery training, soap-making, civic education and vegetable and fruit production.
Meanwhile, “WAD acknowledges its responsibility to sensitise its members and trainees about our great obligation to help preserve our natural environment for posterity,” said De Klerk.
Based on that, she added, her organisation is introducing new approaches to its gardening training course to impart knowledge of the greenhouse effect, environmental degradation and humankind’s negative contribution to it, as well as climate change.