RUNDU, 23 SEP (NAMPA) -
Government is protecting certain areas in the Kavango East Region that would work better for the cultivation of food.
According to Fumu Erwin Munika Mbambo of the Hambukushu Traditional Authority, the pieces of land allocated for national parks in the region are too big, and should rather be put to better use as these areas are suited for cultivating food and for the setting up of irrigation schemes.
Fumu (traditional title meaning 'his majesty') Mbambo, made the statement during the regional consultation on wealth redistribution and poverty eradication held here by the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare on Tuesday.
"Our government is giving food (drought relief aid) to our people, which is a good initiative, but the food gets finished. We do not have a problem with water in our region because we have the Kavango River. What we need is to produce our own food," he said.
The Hambukushu Chief said it is a fact that the parks serve as tourist attractions and therefore generate money for the country. "And yet we complain of poverty. If we are getting a lot of money from those sectors, why are we not feeding our poor people?" he wanted to know.
He added that people should be able to benefit from such programmes in their regions. Fumu Mbambo further said Kavango East and West are regions meant for agricultural purposes like producing food in bulk.
"But the national parks are making it difficult for us to produce food. It is thus important that Government should always approach the traditional leaders for us to tell them the history of Kavango," he urged.
The Hambukushu Chief further stressed that if Government looks at inhabitants and start feeding them, poverty reduction will be realised. He suggested that more power be given to traditional leaders to enable them to advise Government, as currently they do not have such powers.
"Today, when you look at the situation in comparison to the past, the way things are done is completely different. Traditional authorities in the past used to have the jurisdiction to govern and to rule. Today it is not like that," he complained.
Mbambo said more power would enable them to identify places where food can be cultivated to help the community. Some of the national parks in the Kavango East Region are the Mahango and Bwabwata national parks.
The Mahango National Park is over 250 square kilometres and is the smallest of Namibia?s many national parks. It is located in the eastern part of the Caprivi Strip, along the C48 road close to the Popa Falls at the Okavango River, and borders Botswana. The Bwabwata National Park is about 6 274 square kilometres.
It was created from the Caprivi Game Park and Mahango Game Reserve. The area is an important migration route from Botswana to Angola for the African elephant and some other game species, and about 5 500 people live in the park.