“Disability does not equal inability!” With these words the new Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Honorable Juliet Kavetuna, committed the ministry to ensure that the renovated Okandjira craft center for people living with disabilities would be used to improve the dignity of people living with disabilities in the Omatako constituency of the Otjozondjupa region.
The Deputy Minister made the remarks on Monday at the official handover of the center by Deputy Minister of Economic Planning, Honorable Lucia Iipumbu. In her acceptance speech, Kavetuna quoted World Health Organization (WHO) figures which indicated that 80 percent of the people with disabilities in the world were living in developing countries, and less than 5 percent have access to rehabilitation services. As a result, many people living with disabilities were socially and economically disadvantaged and were constrained to a life of poverty, and in some cases their lifespan is shortened.
The center was renovated at a cost of N$700, 000.00 supported by the National Planning Commission (NPC) through the Namibia-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP). Besides the center, the Programme supported various other projects like a school and an earth dam in the same area.
Kavetuna urged the people of Ovitototo to use the center as a hub that will nurture the creativity of people living with disabilities so that they can engage in employment opportunities that will earn them a decent living and improve the dignity of their lives. She also committed her ministry to provide sufficient information about the prevention of polio, which was one of the causes of disability among children in Namibia. "Thus, I commend the community of Ovitoto, the NGSIP and Government of Namibia for the thoughtfulness to construct this important center here in Okandjira," she said.
The center, which is located in the village of Okandjira in the Ovitoto communal area, was originally established in 1998 to help people living with disabilities to engage in economic activities, like carving and selling home decorations from tree roots and other art forms as a way to improve their livelihoods. At one stage the center had 80 community members who participated in various activities. Many of their products were sold at industrial and agricultural shows all over Namibia when the center resorted under the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation. Later the rehabilitation division was moved to the Health and Social Services and activities were downsized to the point where operations were suspended in 2000.
On her part, Honorable Iipumbu said the rational for NGSIP is geared towards Germany's special historic and moral responsibility towards Namibia. “The Government is committed to making sure that such assistance is put to good use in an effort to make a dent in poverty reduction, social and economic living conditions of the Namibia populace and any other challenges being faced by our country,” she said.
According to Iipumbu, modern, reliable infrastructure is critical for high and sustained economic growth. “Without such infrastructure, almost everything in the economic value chain tends to be slower, less reliable, and more expensive than necessary.”
The Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Grün said that the then German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mrs Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul made a "plea for forgiveness" during the 100th anniversary of the suppression of of the Herero uprising. "Her plea was accepted and the hand she extended was taken. I am really grateful for that," he said. "I hope that it is through projects and events like this, that we will find a common language of remembrance and a way forward to shape a Namibia-German future in dignity and cooperation." He added that the NGSIP Programme is just one component of the cooperation between Namibia and Germany. "This initiative is by no means all we have on the plate of our bilateral cooperation," he stressed. He pointed out that the cooperation is geared towards NDP 4 and Vision 2030 and focuses on areas such as natural resources management, Transport with emphasis on rural roads and sustainable Economic development.
Grün added that as Namibia's social economic development is threatened by HIV/Aids at all levels, thus his country's development support is also aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention work.
ChiefVipuira Kapuuo from the Ovaherero Traditional Authority thanked the German and Namibian Government for the support. Giving a background of the center, the Chief said that it was always on the priority list of projects submitted by the Ovitoto community to the then Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila. Among the projects approved for funding is a brand new primary school in Oruuwa area.
“As we mark this milestone in Ovitoto, I want to assure you that the Center will be taken care and that it will not serve any other purpose then what its intended for."
He commented the German Embassy for it’s “open door policy” they displayed to the Namibian delegation during the visit to that office.
The NGSIP was conceptualized and designed by the Government of the Republic of Namibia in 2006. Former President H.E President Hifikepunye Pohamba instructed, then Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Libertina Amadhila, to consult communities that had suffered during the German colonial period on how best to utilize a sum of N$ 200 million which the German Government had granted towards improving the social and economic living conditions of those communities.
The outcome was a uniquely participatory rural development program with more than 200 small and medium scale projects identified and handled by the selected communities.
These communities are amongst the most disadvantaged in the country in terms of access to economic and social welfare resources. They are located in 24 Constituencies of the 7 regions of Erongo, Hardap, Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa. Communities were able to select projects in any economic and social development sector, according to their own assessment of priorities.
The execution of the NGSIP is undertaken by National Planning Commission (NPC) which has organized a program management team for this determination. The German Development Bank, KfW, finances the program on behalf of the German government. In addition, NPC has selected technical advisors that were charged with the preparation and implementation process of the projects.