New Era (Windhoek)

7 September 2009

Namibia: Elections 2009 - Profile - Hardap Region

Governor: Katrina Hanse-Himarwa

THE Hardap Region is located in southern Namibia, just north of the Karas Region. It also borders Erongo to the north-west, Khomas to the north, and Omaheke to the north-east. It covers 109659 square kilometres, which forms 13.3 percent of the country's landmass.

The region was divided into six political constituencies after independence: Gibeon, Mariental Rural, Mariental Urban, Rehoboth Rural, Rehoboth Urban East, and Rehoboth Urban West. Mariental is the regional capital, and with Rehoboth declared a town, the two form the region's administrative and financial functions.

Demographics

In 2001, the region's population was estimated at 68249, representing a growth rate of 0.6 percent from 1991. The annual growth rate is 0.3, compared to the national growth rate of 2.6.

This translates into a population density of 0.6 people per square kilometre, with 15039 households.

According to a Regional Development Plan 2001/2002-2005/2006 of the National Planning Commission, there was a decrease in population size to 57300 in 2005, with an anticipated further decrease to 52300 by 2010 due to HIV/AIDS and an out-migration of young people seeking employment elsewhere in Namibia.

The population here is relatively young, with 36 percent below the age of 15. The population over 60 is about 7.5 percent. This means that about 55 percent of the population is in the economically active age group (15 to 59). There is a higher proportion (5 percent) of very young and old people in the rural areas, and there are 102.7 males for every 100 females.

Population Distribution

The majority of the Hardap Region population is concentrated around the Mariental Rural area (20.4 percent), with the second largest population density in Mariental Urban (19.2 percent). The Rehoboth Urban East (18.9 percent) has the next largest regional population, followed by Gibeon (16.9 percent), Rehoboth Urban West (13.5 percent), and lastly Rehoboth Rural (11 percent).

Of the urban population, 57.6 percent is in the age group of 15 to 59, while it is 53.3 percent in the rural areas of the region.

Seventy-four percent of the people living in the region were born there, with people from Khomas and Karas regions making up about 11 percent of the population, and five percent from central northern Namibia. In 2004, a lifetime migration of 23.1 percent was reported.

Rural-to-urban migration is common in this region, as in other areas of Namibia. The main reason is seeking employment outside the place of origin, with Rehoboth and Mariental as the main centres of employment.

Similarly, a large portion of Rehoboth's working population commutes to Windhoek for work.

Language Groups

The main language spoken in the Hardap Region is Nama/Damara (44.3 percent), Afrikaans (43.9 percent), and Oshiwambo (7.4 percent). Other languages make up less than five percent of the households; these include English, German, Kavango, Herero, San languages and Tswana.

Almost 87 percent of the population older than 15 is literate in Afrikaans and 50 percent in English.

Settlement Patterns and Land Use

About 75 percent of the land in this region belongs to private farmers, with Government as the second largest landowner. The western-most 15 percent of the region is part of the Namib-Naukluft Park, and the central-southern 10 percent is communal farmland. Government also holds 10 resettlement farms, two Government agricultural areas and a protected area at Hardap Dam.

Much of the freehold farming areas range from less than 2500 hectares to as much as 20000 hectares. The majority of the farmlands range from 5000 to 10000 hectares.

In 2000, an estimated 40 square kilometres were cleared for crop planting on irrigation schemes using water from Hardap Dam or groundwater. At that time, livestock totalled 151600 goats, 3400 donkeys, 36900 cattle, 50800 karakul sheep and 565400 dorper sheep. Sheep and cattle are more common in the eastern part of the region, while goats are found throughout, except in the Namib Desert.

Much of the usable farming area is freehold.

Livelihoods

The biggest number of the employed in the Hardap Region is working for the public and private sector services, about 9000, which represents about half of the employed people. These sectors consist of hotels and restaurants, transport, storage and communication, financial and intermediate, tenting and business activities, public administration and defence, education, health and social work, and other community, social and personal service activities.

The second largest employment sector is livestock farming, predominantly sheep, goats and cattle farming (about 31 percent of those employed). The agricultural sector further employs around 18365 people.

In Rehoboth, domestic work (private services) by women is an important source of income for households.

Here, livestock farming also contributes largely to household incomes, where livestock farming in private, freehold land is predominantly a commercial enterprise.

Commercial farmers generate alternative incomes from some game farming and tourist lodgings.

On communal land, livestock farming can be done commercially, although on a small scale, or communally.

Other forms of livelihoods are limited, although some may be considered as mining, construction, wholesale and retail.

Most people in the Hardap Region are said to prefer to earn a salary, while for poor people job opportunities are often limited to 'elementary occupations'.

Employment Rate and Poverty

Sixty-four percent of the population in the Hardap Region is above the age of 15, and hence forms what is considered the working population. Within this workforce, 66 percent is employed.

Of the female labour force, 56.2 percent are employed, while 73.6 percent of males are employed. Six percent of the work force is involved in subsistence or communal farming, with or without paid employees.

The employed population represents 27 percent of the entire population of the region, and is skewed between rural and urban groups, and between those living on freehold and communal areas.

Only 15 percent of the employed work force have completed secondary school, while six percent of the population completed tertiary education.

Four percent of the region's population is considered as extremely poor (meaning more than 80 percent of the household income is spent on food), 27.6 percent (including the 4 percent of extremely poor) is considered poor (where 60 percent of the household income is spent on food).

Average annual incomes per capita is estimated at N$12101 (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2006).

Access to Services

About 94.6 percent of the region's population has access to safe drinking water, but a large 44.3 percent do not have any ablution facilities.

Seventy-nine percent have access to health facilities within reach of 10 kilometres, where the population per health facility stands at 16624 people. Annual health expenditure per person is N$492.

There are 8500 people per social worker.

The region has five hospitals, 11 clinics and one health care centre (2000 figures).

Hardap has 86 schools and training facilities with a teacher/pupil ratio of 1:21. It also has the Tsumis Agricultural College and 25 early childhood centres.

According to 2004 figures, 83 percent of girls between the ages of six to 15 are attending school, while 84 percent of boys are at school.

The overall literacy rate of those older than 15 years of age is 83 percent, while 13 percent never went to school.

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