San Community wants development for all legal residents in N≠a Jaqna
By N≠a Jaqna Conservancy Chairperson and Management Committee
It is necessary that all legal residents have access to much needed development in N≠a Jaqna Conservancy, not just a select few as proposed by the Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD).
The PCLD documentation for the N≠a Jaqna area is flawed, claiming; ‘There are no livestock farmers presently after the successful legal eviction of illegal farmers in July 2017, through the High Court of Namibia’. This is completely unfounded and even the government believes an inspection of the area in August 2018 to assess whether the 2016 court order was complied with is warranted.
The documentation also highlights the desperate need for development in this community as the N≠a Jaqna area has been neglected for years and requires urgent and extensive investment. However investment must focus on those most in need, the legally resident San community. The proposed N$20 million investment in the area offers a great opportunity for the San residents to improve their livelihoods. The proposed PCLD interventions however, are based on an extremely poor cost benefit analysis and are highly flawed.
The greatest fallacy is the assumption that 9 farms will be created and rented out generating an income for the local community. Who will ensure that these farmers pay their rent? Who will ensure that they do not erect illegal fences? Who will ensure that they do not start grazing on conservancy land when their farms are over-grazed? None of these basic issues seem to have been thought about.
The conservancy has been struggling unsuccessfully for years to get the authorities to respond to illegal fencing and settlement in the conservancy. Having to deal with those acting illegally who show a total disregard for the San and the laws of Namibia.
Instead of creating farms for a select few, the alternative and preferred solution should be to install donor funded solar water infrastructure in local San villages. At this moment they are struggling to create gardens and farm livestock due to poor unsustainable water infrastructure. Look at successful projects in neighbouring Nyae Nyae Conservancy where San villages have been given proper sustained support to develop solar water points, gardens and initiate and manage new herds. Projects that benefit the wider San community and enable them to sustainably improve their food security.
The Conservancy asks that the PCLD project:
1) Allow the authorities to properly inspect the area in August to assess compliance with the High Court eviction order and at the same time record all the other illegal fences in the area.
2) Where lack of compliance is found, the authorities need to enforce the High Court Judgement and take action against all the other illegal fences identified during the inspection.
3) Invest the N$10 million proposed for 10 new PCLD boreholes in 10 San villages that urgently need improved water infrastructure in order to enable them to start garden and livestock projects.
4) N$1.5million proposed investment for fencing and N$1.1 million for farm infrastructure to be channelled into the 10 San villages with new solar infrastructure so that they can initiate gardens and buy livestock.
5) A thorough and rigorous analysis is undertaken of the N$6.8 million proposed for a Living Museum and campsite, given the two existing Living Museums, the failed Omatako campsite and abandoned UNESCO Museum Project all in the local vicinity.
Overall the proposed project shows an incredibly poor return on the proposed N$20 million investment as the majority of the benefit goes to the few select farmers. The project funds should be considered for livelihoods development for the legally resident San community without the pretence of financial returns.
Especially as the high risk in terms of further uncontrolled land use in the future remains and no steps are seemingly being undertaken to quell this once and for all.