San increasingly self sufficient

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Last month saw the San community beginning to see the fruits of years of support and the investment in the San communities of Nyae Nyae and Na Jaqna Conservancies paying off.

This is testament to the people’s hard work and the consistent dedicated work of the San to improve their livelihoods and circumstances. The combination of focused and empowering support from both local and international organisations, like the Nyae Nyae Development Fund (NNDFN), the European Climate Fund Project, alongside the dedication and hard work of community members themselves have produced a wide range of sustainable livelihoods.

This is having a real impact and is increasing the welfare and independence of San people in these areas; something every community aspires to, thus allowing for an improved sense of self-worth and further investment in the communities by its members.

A prime example was the start of the Devil’s Claw season this year. The community was able to negotiate the highest price for organic Devil’s Claw ever. Each year the conservancies take on a bigger part of the process of liaising with buyers, harvesting, preparing and selling Devil’s Claw to reduce dependence on external support.

This new arrangement has created a vital source of cash income, which benefits women and men equally, according to the amount of work they do.

Agricultural activities now play a significant part in providing a healthy and more diverse diet to the community. This ensures food security, self-reliance, as well as allowing the community members to develop their agricultural skills with the assistance professionals.

The basic farming activities have now graduated to more advanced techniques.
These include propagation to produce their own seeds and be able to develop several farming cycles, as well as co-planting herbs and flowers to deter pests naturally, so that dangerous pesticides do not get into the water and damage the organic reputation of the Devil’s Claw harvesting in the areas.

One positive set of activities undertaken by the community should not undermine or cannibalise other projects. This has been essential to their continued growth and success over the years, as was linking agricultural activities to nutrition and diet, with a greater proportion of fresh food. This promotes healthier bodies and visibly improved physical capacity of community members, starting with the most vital nutrition for children.

All these initiatives 0 alongside the pledge by the Namibian government in NDP 5 to engage with the local San communities to have the unemployment rate decreased to 45% by 2022 – show real long term promise for local San communities. With present poverty levels at 35%, and with a mere 60% of San children accessing primary education, government’s newly launched initiative to reduce poverty among the San could change their future by offering increased food security, thus creating a wholly self-sustaining community in Namibia.

The will is there from the communities themselves. Together with the NDP 5 pledge, it can be realised.

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