Query: Since it is field-fire season, how far is the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry with the preparation of cut-lines in these two regions?
Response: As per tradition, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will advertise locally through newspapers and radios. In addition, the ministry will also send out the information to the regional councillors to inform members of the public when the forestry officials will visit their respective constituencies to provide application forms that serve as contracts between the ministry and the people who participate in cut lines.
The application forms are already distributed and most of them have been filled. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, through the Directorate of Forestry, has already identified people and the teams that are prepared to work in clearing fire cut lines.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has already received some of the forms to be signed by the Acting Permanent Secretary (PS). Once the contract forms are signed, they will be sent back to the two regions and those who have shown interest in participating in this will be given their contract and will start working as soon as possible.
By next month everyone should receive their contract agreement indicating the number of kilometres allocated per person.
Query: Does the ministry of agriculture have budget provision for these activities?
Response: Yes, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry does have budget provision for these activities though not enough to cover all regions at the same time. Thus, with the limited amount of money allocated to this project we will be able to clear fewer cut-lines.
Query: Is there any other additional information the public needs to know regarding the field-fire season?
Response: The overall issue is the uncontrolled forest fire that normally destroys our forest resources. We would like to remind the people that forest and ecosystem resources that are found in our areas play vital roles in our livelihood. They provide our daily needs of non-wood products such as grass, devil’s claw and a number of products, let alone wood and poles for construction.
We would like to inform the public that if you destroy such forests, you destroy resources that are very important to our local and national economy not to forget our daily needs. We, therefore, call upon all the stakeholders, particularly the public at large, to be extra careful when dealing with fire. They should not leave fire unattended and whenever they are using the fire they should extinguish it as soon as possible.
Finally the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, therefore, urges those that get the opportunity to participate in fire cut-lines clearing to do it with commitment and dedication in order to make sure that the field fire can be prevented when it starts.
Query: Last year it was reported that the ministry of agriculture had started a project to construct 6 500 pit latrines back in 2009, how many toilets have been constructed so far? And in which regions where these pit latrines constructed?
Response: The ministry has constructed the following number of pit latrines in regions as follows:
Region Number of toilets constructed
Kavango East 605
Kavango West 396
Query: I understand that the ministry’s aim was to set up 500 toilets per region. Has this been done? If so, which regions?
Response: Yes, the ministry has initially planned to build 500 toilets per region but due to the lack of funds this has not been achieved. However, the contractors are busy building 500 toilets in the following regions: Kavango East, Otjozondjupa and Omusati.
Query: How many tenders were awarded in regard to the construction of pit latrines by the ministry?
Response: The ministry has awarded two tenders (F1/18/2-1/2013 and A18/1-21/2014, respectively).
Query: The ministry has been faced with little appreciation from communities on the ground, what is the ministry doing to educate the local people on the ground and thus change their opinion of dry pit latrines?
Response: The communities are made aware on the advantages of a dry system, e.g., dry pit latrines could be appropriate for rural areas where water is scarce and it may not be affordable to use the waterborne system e.g. flushing toilet. Prior to the construction of the dry pit latrines, the ministry conducts a health and hygiene promotion in order to educate the community on the importance of using the toilet and avoid the spread of waterborne and sanitation-related diseases. Before the handing over of the latrines to the household or community, the promotion is conducted again to educate the household on how to maintain and use the facilities.
Query: How many people will have to share a dry pit latrine in communities? Per family, house or?
Response: Not more than 20 people are advised to share the same latrine. The Namibian households have an average of 5-10 people each, which falls within the recommended number of people using the same pit latrine.
Query: Has the construction of dry pit latrines been able to tackle the issue of sanitation and open defecation in communities?
Response: The provision of the toilets alone is not an answer to eliminate open defecation; therefore more effort needs to be done on educating and conducting awareness campaigns on the impact of open defecation and basic hygiene practices in Namibia.
Query: How much money is the agriculture ministry going to spend on this project?
Response: The money allocated to this project will depend on the budget allocation.
Query: How much has already been spent by the agriculture ministry on this project?
Response: The ministry has spent approximately N$15 million and N$93 million on the two tenders, respectively.
Ms Margaret S Kalo, Senior Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org\