N‡a Jaqna dispute clarified

09 July 2018 | Environment

The lands ministry, along with the EU Delegation to Namibia and the German embassy in Windhoek, have issued a joint press release regarding the objections and media coverage over the Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD) in Tsumkwe West, more particularly, the N‡a Jaqna conservancy.

In the statement, released by the German embassy, the three parties confirmed that the affected communities were well involved in project planning and no formal objection has been uttered throughout the process.

“It must be emphasised that the lands ministry's PCLD does not force any development on Namibian communities, and shall only implement consensus-based decisions. The highly participatory nature of the planning process remains open for inputs from the local community structures,” the statement read.

The embassy further added that the development of the 53 198 hectare project area is equally aimed at supporting community-based tourism (craft centre, living museum, campsite) and to invest in community crop fields and means of utilisation and infrastructure as required.

The PCLD is a national programme implemented under the mandate of the lands ministry. The implementation of this programme is supported and partially funded jointly by the EU and Germany through KfW Development Bank.

According to the embassy, the draft investment plan for this project will include N$6.7 million for tourism, N$500 000 for crop production, and N$9 million for solar water points and elephant-proof installations. The beneficiaries include 135 San residents of the Aasvoëlnes community. Investment categories currently planned include ten solar boreholes, fencing and development of one model farm, a craft and activity centre, a living museum, the rehabilitation and extension of the community's fields and the provision of implements for the working and harvesting of these fields. “An iterative process was followed, in which four potential sites in the larger Tsumkwe West area were assessed and analysed. This was done together with the local community, the !Kung Traditional Authority, N‡a Jaqna conservancy representatives and line ministries in October 2017,” the embassy said.

Important aspects that were considered during this process included a focus on areas without known disputes, areas with unexploited development potential, the availability of sufficient underground water, and areas with as yet limited or no infrastructure.

Furthermore, detailed mapping of all existing land rights and existing infrastructure in the project area, as well as socio-economic and production data gathered in collaboration with local residents, was presented in a map analysis report and extensively discussed at community level.

“It is a cornerstone of the PCLD implementation approach to avail as much information to the potential beneficiaries as possible, to enhance the decisions taken at public meetings.”

The embassy said a consensus decision was reached on 21 October last year to focus PCLD efforts on the Aasvoëlnes area. All of this is detailed in a site file, which has been availed to the public. The draft investment plan was open to public scrutiny and inputs from 4 to 12 June this year.

“The information was broadcast by radio and the site file and draft investment plans were made available to the public in the traditional authority's office, the offices of the lands ministry and the Aasvoëlnes school office.

On 29 June 2018, at a feedback meeting, the chief of the !Kung Traditional Authority expressed her satisfaction with local level participatory planning process and added that the authority would like the programme to continue until it is fully implemented.

STAFF REPORTER

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