Few projects a beacon of hope …but culture debilitates against rural development

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Nuusita Ashipala
Ongwediva

While most of Little to nothing is being done to develop the rural areas leading to a high influx of people, especially the youth, to urban centres.

Apart from a few services such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, many services still remain absent in the rural areas. However, such offices are only available where there are constituency offices. This leave the youth with no option but to flock to urban areas in search of employment, both formal and informal, because there are literally no jobs apart from the usual, teaching and nursing, that has always been available in some villages prior to independence.

Currently, there are also areas where police sub-stations have been set up to aid in combating crime in villages, especially because crime has for too long been unreported and thus not combatted. Despite the lack of other professions’ job prospects in the villages; good strides have been made through empowering the rural communities, especially women, to set up businesses. One such programme through which the rural community has been empowered is the Income Generating Activities (IGA) through the Ministry of Gender.

Chief public relations officer at the Ministry of Gender, Walter Kamaya, says the programme is meant to alleviate poverty and to empower women to be on par with men. The programme further assists upcoming entrepreneurs with equipment to boost their business, thereby creating income for themselves and creating employment opportunities for others. Other programmes being initiated to uplift the rural communities includes the Micro Finance Scheme, which contributes to sustainable income generating activities and subsequently, create jobs.

Senior public relations officer at the Oshana Regional Council, Elly Ashikoto, says Oshana is experiencing difficulties in developing rural areas due to financial constraints, adding that council is doing its best to encourage and ensure that government facilities are decentralised to the rural areas. “One of the council’s planning role is to ensure that hospitals and health centres and other government facilities are developed in rural areas with the hope of other developments from the private sector, such as shopping malls, in creating employment and reducing the influx of people to the urban areas,” says Ashikoto.

However, the ideology of transforming villages into urban set-ups is not well received by senior citizens. “When you retire, you want to get out of town and age at a village. Where would we go to and take our livestock if the villages are transformed into towns,” questions retired Martin Shigwedha. For him decentralisation should not overstep cultural boundaries. He adds that the provision of services is one thing, but it should also be noted that there are people who can only survive in a rural set up. “There are people who do not have jobs, who cannot afford municipal bills, people who can only survive through farming,” says Shigwedha.

According to the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey launched by the Namibian Statistic Agency (NSA), poverty still remains high in rural areas compared to urban areas. There are slight decreases in the poverty levels and income inequalities in the country; however Namibia remains among the countries with the highest levels of inequality in Namibia.

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