Community Capacity Enhancement - San Community Boat Project in motion
UNDP Namibia in partnership with the Ministry of Regional Local Government Housing and Rural Development, the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders (AMICAAL), the Kavango regional council, and the Nkurenkuru Local Authority officially launched the San community boat project in Nkurenkuru last month. This is a cross boarder initiative under the Community Capacity Enhancement (CCE) project aimed at providing information on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support while generating income through transportation of people across the Okavango River bordering Namibia and Angola. The project will directly benefit the marginalized community of San People and help reduce their vulnerability to excessive alcohol drinking and transactional sex which makes them vulnerable to HIV acquisition and transmission. The income derived from the boat will support food security efforts and enhance adherence to antiretroviral treatments in this community.
After Rundu, Nkurenkuru is the second largest town in the Kavango region sharing the border with Cuangar on the opposite side, north-eastern banks of the river in Angola. Residents of the two towns commute daily across the river for health services, shopping and visiting relatives. In his keynote address the Kavango Regional Governor Reverend Dr. Samuel Mbambo said “this boat project therefore, comes at the right time to assist Namibian as well as Angolan citizens to cross the river in a timely and safe manner. It also provides an opportunity to enhance trade relations between Namibia and Angola while sharing joint HIV prevention efforts.
UNDP Namibia introduced the Community Capacity Enhancement through community conversations (CCE-CC) in 9 regions of the country to increase community dialogue and participation in HIV & AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support efforts. The approach enhances the ability of communities to engage in dialogue that helps them identify their vulnerability to HIV infections and decide on mitigation actions. This is an internationally-proven approach that has contributed to increased community involvement in the response to HIV and AIDS as well as providing support to development efforts. To enhance capacities for local responses, the UNDP provided technical support in the area of mobilizing communities for action around HIV and AIDS using the CCE- CC methodology.
The UNDP Assistant Representative Mrs. Sarah Mwilima explained that the CCE-CC “is based on a vision and recognition that communities have the ability to prevent, care, change and sustain hope in the midst of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. It is an approach that creates safe interactive spaces for facilitated community conversations, reflections and applications based on mutual respect.” UNDP will continue to support government on efforts aimed at reducing the impacts of HIV/AIDS in relation to development, she said.
Through the CCE-CC UNDP was able to pull efforts with the Ministry of Regional Local Government Housing and Rural Development together with the alliance of Municipal leaders and local authorities (AMICAALL) to engage regional councils and local authorities in mounting local responses to mitigate impacts HIV and AIDS in 9 regional councils and 23 local authorities. The boat handover ceremony was officiated by the Kavango Regional Governor Reverend Samuel Mbambo, members of the regional council, representatives from the Nkurenkuru town council, members of the Angolan consular and UNDP Representatives.
Members from the Angolan Consular gave thanks for the project and acknowledged the benefits the boat will have for both Namibian and Angolan community members.
The boat is produced by Anton van Schalkwyk a local business man in Rundu who owns a welding and construction firm. Anton provided additional funds to the tune of 50 000 USD and technical support to the project as his social responsibility. He further offered to assist in the maintenance of the boat during its operations and also revealed his interest in more possible development initiatives for the San community. The boat has a capacity to carry heavy goods such as vehicles across the river and can accommodate more than 30 people aboard.
A spokesperson from the San community Mr. Fransesa gave gratitude to the UNDP and Government partners for the boat project. He said, “receiving this boat we do not feel so marginalized and this is some proof that we have leaders taking care of us”. He further announced that the San community members were indeed joyous and in a celebrative mood that the boat project is finally taking off. The Nkurenkuru town council has supported the community to get the boat project off the ground, and will continue to support the project to ensure its sustainability.
Income generated from the project will empower the households of San people and improve access to basic services. HIV awareness materials will be distributed on the boat while transporting passengers.