Disabled Often Condemned to Poverty – Kavetuna

Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Juliet Kavetuna says the renovated Okandjira Craft Centre that started operating at Ovitoto would improve the living standards of people living with disabilities.

“Disability does not equal inability,” remarked Kavetuna when she opened the newly renovated craft centre in the Omatako Constituency of the Otjozondjupa Region.

Okandjira Craft Centre was officially handed over by the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning, Lucia Iipumbu at the event witnessed by Kavetuna and other dignitaries.

Kavetuna quoted World Health Organisation (WHO) figures indicating that 80 percent of the people living with disabilities in the world were living in developing countries, and that less than five percent have access to rehabilitation services. As a result, many people living with disabilities were socially and economically disaantaged and were constrained to a life of poverty, and in some cases their lifespan is shortened.

The centre was renovated at a cost of N$700 000 supported by the National Planning Commission (NPC) through the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP). Besides the centre, the NGSIP supports various projects like a school and an earth dam in the area.

Kavetuna urged Ovitoto residents to use the centre as a hub that would nurture the creativity of people living with disabilities so that they can engage in employment activities that will earn them a decent living and improve the dignity of their lives.

She also committed her ministry to provide sufficient information about the prevention of polio, which was one of the leading causes of disability among children in Namibia. “Thus, I commend the community of Ovitoto, the NGSIP and the Government of Namibia for the thoughtfulness to construct this important centre here in Okandjira,” she said.

Located in the village of Okandjira in Ovitoto the centre was established in 1998 to help people living with disabilities engage in economic activities like carving and selling home decors made from roots and other art forms, as a way to improve their livng standards.

At one stage, the centre had 80 community members participating in various activities. Many of their products were sold at industrial and agricultural shows all over Namibia when the centre resorted under the former ministry of lands, resettlement and rehabilitation now renamed land reform.

Later the rehabilitation division was moved to the health and social services and activities were downsized to the point where operations were suspended in 2000. On her part, Iipumbu said the rationale for NGSIP is geared towards Germany’s special historic and moral responsibility towards Namibia.

“The government is committed to making sure that such assistance is put to good use in an effort to make a dent in poverty reduction, social and economic living conditions of the Namibia populace and any other challenges being faced by our country,” she said.

“Modern, reliable infrastructure is critical for high and sustained economic growth. Without such infrastructure, almost everything in the economic value chain tends to be slower, less reliable, and more expensive than necessary,” said Iipumbu. The Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Gruumln, said the then German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul made a “plea for forgiveness” during the 100th anniversary to mark the OvaHerero uprising.

“Her plea was accepted and the hand she extended was taken. I am really grateful for that,” he said.

“I hope that it is through projects and events like this that we will find a common language of remembrance and a way forward to shape a Namibian-German future in dignity and co-operation.”

He added that NGSIP is just one component of the co-operation between Namibia and Germany. “This initiative is by no means all we have on the plate of our bilateral co-operation,” he stressed. Gruumln said the co-operation is geared towards NDP4 and Vision 2030 and focuses on areas such as natural resources management, transport with emphasis on rural roads and sustainable economic development. Gruumln added that, as Namibia’s social economic development is threatened by HIVAIDS at all levels, his country’s development support is also aimed at HIVAIDS prevention work.

Chief Vipuira Kapuuo from the Ovaherero Traditional Authority thanked the German and Namibian governments for the support. Giving a background of the centre, Kapuuo said it was always on the priority list of projects submitted by the Ovitoto community to the then Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila. Among the projects approved for funding is a new primary school in Oruuwa area. “As we mark this milestone in Ovitoto, I want to assure you that the centre will be taken care and that it will not serve any other purpose than what it’s intended for,” stated Kapuuo.

He commented the German Embassy for the “open-door policy” extended to the Namibian delegation during the visit to that office. Namibia conceptualised and designed the NGSIP in 2006.

Former president President Hifikepunye Pohamba instructed, then Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amadhila, to consult communities that suffered during the German colonial period on how best to utilise N$200 million Germany funding granted towards improving the social and economic living conditions of those communities. The outcome was a uniquely participatory rural development programme with more than 200 small and medium scale projects identified and handled by the selected communities. These communities are among the most disaantaged in the country in terms of access to economic and social welfare resources.

They are located in 24 constituencies of the seven regions of Erongo, Hardap, Kharas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa.

Source : New Era