MCA-Namibia hands over infrastructure at Etosha

ETOSHA: The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Namibia officially handed over infrastructure it built and renovated in the Etosha National Park to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on Thursday.

A total of N.dollars 350 million was invested, mainly to build staff villages and management infrastructure for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) at the Galton Gate, Olifantsrus, Okaukuejo and Ombika.

As part of the exercise, 54 houses were built at Ombika, while 35 houses, management and support infrastructure, as well as tourism facilities were constructed at Galton Gate. All the houses have electricity, water and sewage connections and are equipped with fridges, stoves, and solar geysers.

Land has also been serviced for a collective 49 additional houses at Ombika and Galton Gate to make it easier for MET to build staff housing in future. Thirty houses in the junior staff village at Okaukuejo were renovated.

MCA-Namibia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Penny Akwenye said her organization worked tirelessly with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to meet conditions and performance targets to “unlock” Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding for the N.dollars 350 million investment in Etosha.

She said the MET now has a housing policy and implementation plan in place that will help guide the use of the new and existing houses in the park. Akwenye said in the past it was very difficult to enforce any sort of housing policy due to the huge shortage of houses in the park.

“With the new houses provided, the housing policy can now be enforced to create a conducive living environment for the staff in Etosha and attract qualified staff to work in the park,” she said.

The CEO then admitted that the housing constructed under the five-year MCA-Namibia Compact is not yet sufficient for all the staff, but said the underground water, sewerage and power provision is adequate for future expansion to up to 90 houses in Ombika and up to 60 houses at Galton Gate.

The construction and renovations at Etosha form part of the agreement between the governments of Namibia and the United States of America (USA) known as the ‘compact’, which is aimed at reducing poverty through economic growth.

The agreement has targeted the acceleration of development in three main sectors – tourism, agriculture and education – which it intends to use as catalysts for socio-economic development.

The compact, which was signed on 16 September 2008, ended this September after being in operation for close to four years.

Speaking at the same event, Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga said the network of State-run protected areas and conservancies have great potential to bring in maximum yields for Namibia as they offer new areas and routes for tourists to explore, therefore generating new tourism product packages.

“These achievements illustrate the significant progress in the Etosha National Park and conservancies neighboring the park,” said the minister.

He added that Namibia’s internationally renowned network of protected areas and its approach to wildlife conservation and rural development are some of the key tourism draw cards to the country.