City to Turn Riverbeds Into Gardens

In an attempt to tackle food insecurity within its boundaries, Windhoek plans to turn the many scattered riverbeds where criminals often hide into gardens to produce food for the needy.

Produce from such gardens will be availed to the city’s poor who find themselves at the receiving end of starvation.

The informal settlement population in Windhoek is growing at the rate of between 4 and 5 percent per year. The majority of this population are poor.

At this rate, the Windhoek City Council says, it has increasingly become difficult for residents to access food, housing and employment.

In an interview with New Era, Windhoek Mayor Agnes Kafula said she was optimistic that Windhoek has the potential for urban agriculture to alleviate the dire situation among informal dwellers who are faced by hunger and extreme poverty.

The mayor said Windhoek’s many perennial rivers have the potential for urban agriculture.

“These rivers are just ’empty’ and we’ve experienced that the water flow during the rainy season only lasts for about a month. And most of the time during the year they are dry with bushes on their banks where criminals hide. We are saying, ‘why can’t we utilise these riverbeds to turn them into greens?'” Kafula noted.

Further, she said such a initiative would create employment and chase away criminals hiding in the bushes.

“We have that potential to create green riverbeds where people can put up gardens and harvest vegetables for their consumption and selling purposes,” she added.

She also revealed that the Windhoek Municipality last year sold a piece of land to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to set up a produce hub in Wanaheda.

She said that once the gardens are establshed residents can take their produce to the hub for safekeeping or sale.

“It is on that basis that we feel if we turn these riverbeds into green areas we will be able to curb high unemployment in our city and people will have something in their pockets at the end of the day,” she reasoned.

Asked if such plans would not be costly, she said it might not be so costly because all that is needed is water for the gardens.

Since Monday, Windhoek has been hosting a three-day food and security workshop where international partners such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the World Future Council, the Resource Centre for Urban Agriculture and Forestry (RUAF) and delegates from Belo Horizonte in Brazil are in attendance to share their experiences and ideas on food security.

Regarding the envisaged gardens, she said the workshop is part of the initial preparation.

“Hopefully from recommendations we will forge the way forward and from next year will start with piloting. The Founding Father of the Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma, also has the idea to create such gardens along riverbeds. I hope he will also appreciate our ideas. He told me he had an idea of drilling boreholes to draw water for these gardens,” she disclosed.

Source : New Era