Etosha Receives 90 Staff Houses

MORE than 90 staff houses were handed over to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism by the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia last week.

Workers at the Etosha National Park, who previously used to live in tents in informal settlements, will now live in houses for the first time after the MCA completed construction of over 90 houses at the park. The construction project, which commenced last year, is expected to motivate employees and improve their productivity by establishing a healthy, comfortable and socially stable residential environment.

MCA completed 37 MET staff houses at Galton Gate and 54 houses at Ombika Gate, equipped with fridges, stoves and solar geysers.

The houses have also been provided with water and electricity and are low maintenance.

MCA’s chief executive officer Penny Akwenye says land has been serviced for an additional 90 houses at Ombika and 60 houses at Galton Gate for the ministry to make it easier to construct more houses for the workers in future.

She said the biggest cost for government when it comes to building houses is the servicing of land. She also said 30 houses in the junior staff village at Okaukuejo were renovated, with improved living conditions for those living in the houses.

The housing project was one of the last that the American-based organisation has undertaken after it closed late in September this year.

Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga expressed gratitude to the MCA, saying the improved park infrastructure made a significant contribution to the communities in the park. “Increased benefits from wildlife conservation will encourage people around the Park to become even better custodians of wildlife,” he said.

US Embassy deputy chief of mission John Kowalski said that the greatest challenge will be to maintain the momentum the ministry created in improving Etosha to build more houses on the serviced plots at Ombika and Galton to make employment even more attractive. “Government’s efforts will pay large dividends to Namibia as tourists come to visit this beautiful and diverse land,” he said.

The MCA has invested over N$350 million in the building and upgrading of infrastructure at the National Park, including the construction of evaporation ponds and waste transfer sites at Ombika and Galton Gate to ensure proper management of solid and liquid wastes.

A new management plan and strategy were drafted to encourage waste recycling in protected areas and in the country in general. Waste management equipment like bins, bags and trucks have also been procured to assist the Park with waste management.

The Olifantrus waterhole has also been upgraded as a rest area with new camping facilities, waste management sites, interpretation centre, kiosk, offices and a walkway with an impressive game-viewing hide that is expected to bring tourists closer to wildlife in a safe surrounding.

MCA also produced 123 signage boards mounted along the Galton Gate route portion stretching from the Gate to the Charl Marais Dam in Western Etosha in order to provide easy access to tourists travelling down that route. The event also saw the acknowledgment of the successful joint venture lodge development at six conservancies that participated in the Conservancy Development Support Services activity.

Source : The Namibian