Leonardville — The sleepy village of Leonardville, nestled on the fringes of the Kalahari Desert is aspiring to become a town and has embarked on major capital projects to boost its position in that quest.
Leonardville is situated 134 kilometres south of Gobabis in Omaheke Region in the eastern part of Namibia. To prepare itself for proclamation as a town the village administration has embarked on the installation of a new sewerage system and a N$20 million aquaculture scheme.
The fish farm that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources established last year is soon expected to start producing its first catch for the village, and the fisheries minister Bernard Esau encouraged the village to use locals in harvesting the first catch.
"Make sure to use local labour. Let us not import labour. The people of Leonardville should benefit and learn how to farm with fish," Esau urged. Close to 100 people will be employed once the N$20 million project is completed in August this year.
Although the fish farm is still under construction, the chief executive officer of the village Willem /Uirab is optimistic that the farm will boost the image of the village by creating more jobs and attract investors to the village.
In an exclusive interview with New Era yesterday, /Uirab said 77 people in the village received 770 rams through the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP) last year November. Livestock distribution is one component of the NGSIP.
The programme sponsors community-driven projects in areas that suffered under German colonial rule. "At the beginning of the programme, the beneficiaries struggled. But as time goes on the programme will be a success. The only challenge we have now is grazing land. Currently these beneficiaries are accommodated on municipal land," he said.
He said the village also benefited from the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) through small capital projects, but said the massive government-sponsored bailout programme took off at a slow pace last year.
The village was allocated funds for the installation of sewer pipes to provide 34 erven with municipal services. /Uirab indicated that the village council has now demarcated erven properly to avoid the emergence of informal settlements in the village.
"The challenge we have is how to provide sanitation to the people. We are also experiencing poor and slow payment from residents in terms of the services we render to them, due to the high unemployment rate. There is not much job creation going on here," he said.
However, the village is kept very tidy and /Uirab attributes that to the hard work of his staff. "This is why we are keeping the issue of dumping refuse under control," he said.
The village of about 2 300 inhabitants boasts a primary and junior secondary school.