Ncumcara – Inhabitants of Ncumcara, some 25km west of Rundu in Kavango West Region, last Thursday witnessed the ceremony that will serve as a precursor to N$100 million in funding for the construction of infrastructure to boost several community forestry projects.
Nine recipient community forestry projects that met the criteria for a slice of the N$100 million are located in
Zambezi, Kavango West, Kavango East and in the Otjozondjupa regions.
The facilities to be built with part of the funds include a craft- and carpentry workshop, a relaxation area for visitors and tourists, as well as improved ablution facilities. The overall investment aims to better manage forest resources by the community.
Construction will start by the first week of November and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has been selected as the implementer of the community forest project Phase 2 (CFN-2), co-funded by the German government through the German Development Bank (kfW).
“We’re here today to witness the commencement of the project activities that are to start very soon to build nine facilities at the following places: Likwaterera community in Kavango East, Ncumcara and Katope in Kavango West, Lubuta, Sachona, Kwandu, which is an integrated conservancy and community forest, Sikanjabuka in the Zambezi region, as well as Nyae-Nyae in Tsumkwe and Ondjou in the Otjozondupa Region,” said Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa.
“It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be here to witness the groundbreaking for infrastructure development in the Ncumcara community forest, which also stands for the symbolic groundbreaking for eight other offices in other target regions,” said the kfW director Dr Uwe Stoll, who joined Mutorwa at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Specifically, the current phase of the community forestry in Namibia project is funded by the Namibian and German governments at a project value of approximately N$100 million, of which N$55 million was contributed by the German side to cover an implementation period of three years.
The current phase aims to contribute towards the establishment and effective and sustainable management of community forests in the project intervention areas of Zambezi, Kavango West, Kavango East regions and Tsumkwe Constituency in the Otjozondjupa Region.
“I recognise and commend the involvement of the FAO in the same sector through the NAFOLA project, which is active in the remaining community forests in Namibia,” stated Stoll.
The local communities in the selected community forests were intricately involved in the identification of their infrastructural requirements and selection of the appropriate construction sites, where applicable, by way of an interactive participatory needs assessment.
“The well-designed and carefully planned infrastructure will contribute positively towards attaining the goal, which is to maintain the forests as a livelihood basis for the target group by providing improved crafting and marketing facilities that are at the same time attractive for visitors,” Stoll said.
Community forests function as grazing areas for cattle, livestock, as habitat for wildlife, as well as a source of income and social security for rural populations. The protected community forests thus affords a basis for the continuation of the customary lifestyle at subsistence level and could potentially improve the level of general prosperity.
Kavango West Governor Sirkka Ausiku, who was present at the groundbreaking, welcomed the infrastructure development project in her region.
“I would like to thank the German and Namibian governments for the support. This is the right way to go. The community of Ncumcara will benefit immensely from this project by selling wood and wild fruits, woodcarvings, timber and harvesting of thatch grass for business purposes. This will change the community livelihood and reduce poverty in the region,” Ausiku said.
“I am encouraging community members to get involved and own the community forest by protecting the forest from wildfire and illegal activities. Communities should manage the forest in such a way as to promote tourism and conservation,” she said.
In July the German Development Bank (KfW), the co-financier of the NamParks Project on behalf of the German government, provided N$107 million for the construction of three park stations, one in Zambezi and two in Kavango East.
One park station is being built at Khaudum’s northern entrance and another at Sikerette, the southern entrance of the park, while the third will be built at Shisinze in the Nkasa Rupara National Park in Zambezi Region.
Sixty-one staff houses are also being constructed along with the three stations, featuring attractive entrance gates, visitor reception areas and offices.