Livestock Was Top MCA-N Priority

The Five year programme of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) is fast drawing to a close. The MCA-N held a Livestock Stakeholder’s workshop on July 9 in Windhoek to reflect on the Livestock Support Activity and to share the outcomes of the different undertakings within the initiative. The US Government-funded MCA-N programme, which supported various development activities in Namibia in the Agriculture, Education and Tourism sectors to the tune of NS400 million over the last five years, will formally close on September 16. Deon Schlechter reports on some of the MCA-N’s hugely successful programmes that were implemented in the five-year period.

Windhoek – The Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) ‘s agricultural intervention had the objective to support the livestock farmers north of the cordon veterinary fence to improve their livestock marketing opportunities.

The intervention activities were implemented under three sub-activities, namely: Livestock Market Efficiency Fund (LMEF) Livestock Identification and Traceability System (NamLITS) and Construction of State Veterinary Offices (SVOs), Directorate of Veterinary Services (S) staff houses and upgrading of Quarantine Camps (Q-Camps). Stakeholders highlighted the achievements of the various programmes and some challenges encountered in the implementation process. They also discussed the way forward after the end of MCA-N funding.

MCA-N CEO Penny Akwenye said agriculture was one of the top priorities that the local communities wished to get funded. “Through the agriculture project appraisal, MCA Namibia and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), took a holistic approach to support the Ministry’s ongoing efforts in both training of best practices, improve traceability, animal health and veterinary services, and to reduce marketing barriers within the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs). The livestock support interventions showed that it was possible to work in many locations in a short period simultaneously. We believe that the sector is better prepared for the future and that our efforts will eventually lead to the declaration of animal disease-free status for the NCAs by the World Animal Health Organisation, OIE,” said Akwenye.

She applauded the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry for the good support and cooperation. The benefiting MAWF’s Permanent Secretary, Joseph Iita, said apart from the investment in veterinary support infrastructure, the MCA-N Agriculture Project made significant contribution towards the training of communal farmers in the NCAs. Farmers received training in rangeland management, livestock husbandry, livestock marketing as well as management of livestock watering infrastructure. “The majority of the sub-projects funded under this project were those that the Ministry had planned before and those due to resource limitations, the Ministry had not been able to execute. For this reason, I would like to express the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s, and indeed the Government of the Republic of Namibia’s gratitude, for the generous gesture by the United States’ Government and people, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in fast-tracking those Government plans and programmes,” he said.

Iita said his ministry would do everything in its power to maintain the momentum created through MCA-N’s investment to continue the implementation of the software components, as well as physically maintain the hardware components of the project.

Paul Sijssens, an independent external livestock support evaluator, who reviewed the implementation of the activities said most of the livestock programmes were relevant although some faced implementation challenges. He commended MCA-N for professionally managing the livestock activities, and setting up clear implementation procedures. Dr Musilika Shilongo, from the MAWF, who led the project aimed at formulating strategies to declare the NCAs free from Foot and Mouth Disease, said MCA-N funding had enabled the MAWF to hold wide consultations with about 1, 000 local communities on the suitable options to prevent movement of livestock from affected neighbouring countries into Namibia.

George Haufiku, a member of the Secretariat of the NCA livestock marketing cooperatives, said six cooperatives had been created representing six northern regions. “There were no livestock marketing organisations in the northern communal areas and the off-take of livestock was less despite the regions having the highest number of livestock. We are now able to market livestock through regular auctions within the NCAs, and auctioneers from local communities have been trained through MCA-N programme,” said Haufiku.

Source : New Era