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Friday 18 January 2019
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Array of challenges plague regions

cattle dam tent

Regional reports submitted to the National Council by lawmakers have exposed the sad state of affairs in the country, with challenges such as poor road infrastructure, slow decentralisation process, bureaucratic land delivery systems and poor education infrastructure leading the pack of concerns.
Besides the fact that the reports are meant to assist lawmakers to gauge the basic needs of the regional population, the reports are also expected to assist parliamentarians when it comes to regional resource allocation.
Most regions are particularly irked by the slow implementation of the decentralisation process when it comes to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Works and Transport. Others feel some functions are not fully decentralised.
Although decentralisation has been fully implemented in some ministries, there are still those who refuse to shed their powers.
Below is a list of some of the challenges facing all 14 regions in the country.

Khomas
Because of limited schools, regional education authorities have been forced to resort tent schools. The regional leadership also blamed the situation on the unavailability of land to construct schools.
Another challenge is the maintenance of existing schools and ageing sewer and water networks at schools.
Concerns were also raised over public schools located on private farms.
Regarding health matters, the maintenance of existing hospitals and a shortage of specialised skills continue to plague the region.
Also, the need for the provision of hospitals and clinics, which is exacerbated by urbanisation, is being negatively affected by the lack of funds to acquire land to construct new hospitals, while some pieces of land earmarked for clinics have been illegally occupied.
The regional leadership also lamented the highly priced farmland and the lack of resettlement farms in Windhoek rural to provide land to the region’s inhabitants.
Another problem is the lack of funds to service land and outdated legislation regulating municipal land.
Despite the reduction of crime for 13 199 in 2014 to 11 733 currently, the region wants to build new police stations but land is not forthcoming.
Increased gender-based violence and shebeens also pose a hazard to the region.
As for capital projects, the regional council bemoaned the time it takes for tenders to be awarded as well as poor workmanship on the part of some contractors.

Oshikoto
High school dropout rates and lack of qualified teachers hamper education growth in the region.
The situation is made worse by limited education infrastructure that has now resulted in teachers conducting lessons in traditional structures.
The council also highlighted the limited funds availed for compensation in urban areas and declared settlement areas as a challenge.
“Complicated compensation for urban development is a challenge. The existing compensation policy guideline has numerous legal limitations and loopholes, hence leading to increased compensation disputes,” said the council.
Council is also not satisfied with the late appointment of project consultants by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
The unsynchronised government and local authorities financial years also came into question. Currently, the financial year for local authorities runs from 1 July to 31 June while that of government runs from 1 April to 31 March. Council wants the financial year of local authorities to be realigned to that of government to ensure that the reporting and implementation period are in unison.

//Kharas
The regional leadership called for the implementation of the constituency development fund after expressing concern over a lack of funding from central government to implement projects initiated by constituencies.
Council also indicated that the implementation of projects has been affected by the late releasing of the budget.
In order to provide decent shelter for those living in sub-standard housing structures, council encouraged the continuation of the Build Together and Mass Housing programme.
Council also said it cannot heed the request for electricity supply because of a lack of funds.
“In terms of the rural electrification programme, it is observed that the funding is poor and since the majority of the population resides in the rural areas, there is a dire need for the government to allocate more funds for the programme,” said the council.
It also bemoaned the slow implementation of the green scheme program.

Hardap
Council lamented the lack of adequate provision of funds to constituencies for local initiatives, disasters and development.
Dilapidated water, electricity and road infrastructure has also been listed as a major concern.
“Local communities are losing substantial amounts of revenue due to water and electricity losses in the system. All communal standpipes are now worn out and are dispensing free water at the expense of the council in Hoachanas,” council complained.
Despite efforts to get rid of the bucket system in the region, such efforts are said to be jeopardised by the slow disbursement of funds to the council.
“The slow disbursement of funds to the local authorities and the influx of people from rural to urban do not match, resulting in the reintroduction of the bucket system.”
Another challenge listed is the lack of integrated support for resettled farmers in the form of land use plans, exposure to development partners to enter into public-private partnerships and cooling facilities for their produce in Mariental.
The rate of project implementation in the region is another challenge because of the bureaucracy at the finance ministry through delays when it comes to transferring funds.

Zambezi
Authorities in the region revealed that several projects that are centrally managed by ministries have experienced delays and are now beyond their completion time.
These projects include clinics and a learning centre.
Council also expressed disappointment over the fact that some projects have been underfunded despite information on the actual contractual amount provided.
The region continues to function without an ultra sound machine for almost a year while the autoclave machine is obsolete.
The high care unit has no monitors or ventilators, said council, adding that the procurement of medical equipment and recruitment of medical personnel is extremely slow.
The long distances patients are forced to travel to referral hospitals have only been identified as a challenge when it comes to the health of patients and the condition of ambulances.
The hospital also faces a critical staff shortage due to an outdated staff establishment.
The region also wants all traditional classrooms to be replaced with permanent structures and the provision of decent accommodation for teachers. It also wants noisy bars and cuca shops closed during school hours.

Kunene
Already classified as one of the poorest regions in the country, Kunene has to grapple with challenges such as drought, desertification and a high demand for land.
“The demand for land is very high in settlement areas, towns and municipalities in the region. Also, many people cannot afford land and houses but they need shelter,” said the council in its report.
Many vacancies are also not filled at the Regional Council as well as some ministries, a situation which is said to be creating a backlog of work tasks not being completed on time, as some officials are forced to do work that is supposed to be done by three people.
Council also called for improved coordination between the Office of the President and the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement as well as the agriculture ministry to look into the plight of farmers.
Desertification has also been on the rise in the region, the report states that trees are cut-down by those who want to make quick money, leaving community members in limbo because they do not benefit from massive firewood harvesting operations.
Another challenge is the abuse of government vehicles.
Council is also worried over the centralised budget system, which it says has no input from councillors in terms of budget formulation.
Communication facilities are also needed in remote areas.

Omusati
The Omusati regional leadership has identified water and electricity shortage and access to land as some of the most pertinent issues.
Council is also worried because some of the region’s inhabitants do not have national documents.
Residents are forced to travel about 80 kilometres to acquire national documents. Council called on the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to reintroduce the outreach programme and to expand civic offices to the remote constituencies.
Due to an insufficient number of veterinary offices, livestock farmers are forced to travel long distances to get their animals tested by veterinarians.
Omusati residents are said to be interested in fighting poverty through initiating income-generating activities but their efforts are being frustrated by the shortage of electricity. Some have been resorting to using generators but this is unsustainable, the report indicated.

Erongo
Regarded as one of the most resourceful regions, Erongo has its own set of challenges – chief among them lack of coordination.
The report indicates that lack of coordination among the different sectors hampers development whereby sectors work in isolation.
The harbour expansion currently underway in Walvis Bay, despite bringing social development, has also brought social challenges in the form of HIV/AIDS.
Rapid urbanisation in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, according to the report, has placed a burden on service delivery and accommodation in the two towns.
Council also lamented the lack of engineers in the region.

Kavango West
Lack of water infrastructure, high incidence teenage pregnancy and school dropouts, and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS are some of the problems in the region.
Council lamented the lack of roads leading to the remote areas in the region.
According to the report, the precarious road situation prevents farmers from transporting their produce to the market, while expectant mothers often give birth even before reaching the hospital. Learners are also at risk because they have to make use of the bushy roads to go to school.
The region is currently experiencing a huge influx of elephants that are posing a threat to the inhabitants and their livelihoods.
With Nkurenkuru experiencing a high demand for serviced land, the town council lacks funds for compensation in the urban area to pave way for urbanisation.
The regional leadership is also not happy with the alleged slow pace at which the home affairs ministry issues national documents.
Also, the implementation of decentralisation is very slow said the report.
“Some ministries are implementing programmes that are not in parallel with the wishes and aspirations of the communities. As a result, development programmes are not fully implemented and effectively monitored,” stated the report.

Kavango East
The lack of feeder roads is said to be hampering the operations of the Council. Council also revealed that most schools do not have ablution facilities.
Overcrowding of learners in classrooms that has led to unconducive environment for teaching and learning.
Green schemes are also not addressing the problem of the communities at the site, the regional report stated.
Council also warned of a possible fish stock decline while human-wildlife conflict is on the rise.
The report also indicated that there is a shortage of ambulance service, a big disadvantage for patients.

Ohangwena
Most of the region’s challenges are related to lack of service providers and infrastructure.
The cumbersome foreign recruitment and lack of qualified Namibian medical professionals is another challenge the council revealed.
The outbreak of diseases was also highlighted and council complained that there is no budget provision for sanitation programmes.
Youth unemployment, teenage pregnancy, access to vocational training and high school dropout rates are also some of the challenges listed.
Poor network coverage, lack of potable water, children of the liberation struggle, war veterans benefit are the other challenges.

Otjozondjupa
Home to over 105 000 people, the Otjozondjupa regional council identified the backlog in the delivery of serviced plots, as its major challenge.
Others include housing provision, proper road infrastructure, sanitation facilities and electrification of informal settlements.
Council said there are plans to avail at least 10 999 plots in the near future to address the land and housing challenges.
On the education front, lack of accommodation for teachers, inadequate classrooms and dilapidated school facilities are hampering the delivery of quality education.
The situation resulted in overcrowding at schools and learners being taught under unconducive learning environments. Some dilapidated schools like Okondjatu Combined School need revamping, but council said the money required to do so is beyond the financial capacity of the regional government.
Healthcare continues to give the region sleepless nights. Council wants a clinic built in the Five Rand Informal Settlement in Okahandja.
It also lamented the construction of Okondjatu Health Centre in Okakarara Constituency, which is incomplete and now abandoned after three years.
With the Okahandja-Otavi road declared an accident hotspot, the regional government said the absence of an Intensive Care Unit in the region contributes to the loss of lives that could have been saved. There are however plans to construct a referral hospital at Otjiwarongo.
Farms also pose a challenge to the Otjozondjupa leadership because some communal farmers are farming in corridors because they do not meet the set criteria for resettlement. Council also indicated that the willing-buyer willing-seller policy is not working and that farms on offer are at times not suitable for resettlement purposes.
Due to the vastness of the region, police operations have also been adversely affected. Council said there is a shortage of vehicles for the police to execute their work effectively.

Oshana
Being one of the most populated regions comes with its own baggage, with a population of 176 674, the Oshana Regional Council has to deal with challenges such as providing accommodation for the police, maintaining state properties and staff shortages.
Council expressed concern over the increasing maternal deaths that increased from 13 in 2014/15 to 22 at present.
Marital problem cases and alcohol and drug abuse also pose a challenge for council’s ongoing efforts to fight poverty in the region.
The lack of funds to implement council plans is another challenge listed by the Oshana regional leadership.
There is also a shortage of serviced land for the low-income groups while the management of oxidation ponds also poses a great challenge because they have become too small for the population.
In terms of land delivery, inadequate funding for compensation, lengthy planning process and inadequate funding for service provision remains an uphill battle.
Council is also worried by the number of liquor outlets in the region.
Council admitted that despite the outlets contributing to alcohol abuse, noise pollution and vandalism in the region, the outlets do contribute to employment creation. The lack of major industries has also been identified as a major challenge.

Omaheke
The cattle country bemoaned the slow progress of decentralisation, lack of constituency development budget and budget cuts for ongoing projects as some of the challenges in the region.
Council said in its report that many ongoing projects have not been budgeted for in the current financial year despite contractors being appointed. The situation is expected to negatively affect the implementation of such projects and due to contractual commitments, the Regional Council fears that it might be dragged to court by contractors.
As for the Build Together programme, the report indicates that the lack of capacity of local contractors, limited serviced plots and reluctance on the part of beneficiaries to repay their continue to cripple the programme that is primarily aimed to provide housing to those in the low income brackets.
The drought has incapacitated farmers, with the report noting that mechanisms devised by the Office of the Prime Minister to avert disaster have not made a significant impact.




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