Communities in Omatjete and Utuseb villages in the Erongo region received early Christmas gifts when the Ministry of Economic Planning and National Planning Commission (NPC) officially handed over community initiated projects to them.
The projects which include the Zeraeua Traditional Authority Multi-Purpose Centre and the Topnaars Heritage-Festival site are part of the Namibia-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP) projects funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. The centre was constructed at a total cost of N$3,746,946 through funds made available by the German development bank, KfW.
In her handing over remarks of the Omatjete Multi-Purpose Commercial Centre to the Zeraeua Royal House of the Ovaherero in the Daures Constituency, Hon. Lucia Iipumbi urged members of the community to take good care of the centre, in order to improve its lifespan for generations yet unborn to also use. In a speech delivered on her behalf by NPC Chief, National Development Advisor, Habani Munyungano, Iipumbu said by creating a safe and conducive environment in and the surrounding of the centre will attract more tourists and local residents to make use of the centre and the camping site from time to time. According to her, the Erongo Region has potential for ecotourism, because of the hundreds of landscapes that can attract tourist and create the much needed job opportunities. She among others mention that the river valleys of the Kuiseb and Swakop rivers, the wetlands like Walvis Bay Lagoon, lichen fields and localized high densities of breeding Damara terns and Small scale miners, carry huge potential for ecotourism with huge economic spin-offs for locals. “It is my wish that this centre will provide educational and recreational activities to both young and adults.”
Officiating at the handover of the Topnaar Heritage-Festival site, Deputy Economic Planning and National Planning Commission, Hon. Lucia Iipumbu at Utusib in Walvis Bay Rural Constituency, urged communities and every involved actor to play their role towards the maxim utilisation of the facility. “I wish to congratulate these communities for taking ownership of this centre. I have no doubt that this centre is going to be a success judging from your commendable livestock management system,” she said. The Minister, however, pointed out that the centre is not only for the use of the communities, but can be used by other institutions such as government institutions, Non Governmental Organisation and even international organisations such as UN bodies. “This centre should not be idle, but it should be self sustaining for any commercial purposes that would bring an income for the community, “she pointed out. She urged the community to respect and preserve their culture for the sake of future generations.
According to the Hon. Iipumbu, culture is slowly taking over wildlife, especially among tourist and urged the Topnaar community to explore ways to promote their culture at their disposal in growing the economy and uplifting their livelihood. Hon Iipumbu urged the private and business to spread their corporate social responsibility programmes to the communities as part of efforts to complement the Government's empowerment programme.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Matthias Schlaga, assured the communities about his country's readiness to support the development of the country. According to Schlaga, the centre would be an ideal meeting ground, where the business sector and communities can interact with one another while developing a good understanding of their own abilities.
“I believe this centre can make a difference in the lives of this community, if put to good use,” he remarked. He also noted that he is delighted that through the NGSIP the German Government could support part of the traditional structures to not only keep them alive, but to ensure that they can function in line with the modern structures of the government. On his part the Chief of the Topnaar community, Chief Seth Kooitjie said he is grateful to receive the centre on behalf of the community and promised that they would also avail the centre to the Education and Government institutions and entities. He particularly thanked the Governments of Namibia and Germany for the role that NGSIP have played in the support to the community in realizing the establishment of the Centre.
Chief Kooitjie also announced that the Centre will be named after his late father Esau Saneseb Kooitjie. He explained that the centre was constructed at a cost of about N$3,746,946 and was implemented through the NGSIP. It consist of a set of bungalows for overnight guests and tourists, a kiosk, an arena, a community hall, traditional court, a camp for festivals, the chief’s traditional house, an administration block, as well as ablution facilities. The Chief went on to say the centre would be self-sustaining and would employ its own staff. “The centre should not become a white elephant as it would be responsible to generate funds from its own programmes,” he stressed.