There is an urgent need to upgrade and maintain communal fences.
All stakeholders, especially decision-makers, need to be involved – particularly the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, traditional authorities (TAs) and development aid funders (partners).
The ministry must ensure that a sufficiently conducive environment is created for producers to add more value to their products.
Traditional authorities are the custodians of communal land and are entrusted by the government to look after such land for the benefit of current and future generations.
Further, development aid funders (partners) – in this instance, Germany and the European Union – must not be selective when providing infrastructure on communal land.
For the record, there is the Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD) which, since its inception in 2015, has never reached some parts of Namibia’s communal areas.
It is important that German development aid administrators engage local traditional communities and identify existing fences for upgrading.
The Communal Land Reform Act, the legal guiding tool on communal land administration, provides clear direction on how to keep existing fences.
These are fences which were present before the Communal Land Reform Act was enacted in March 2003.
Existing fences are of considerable importance to communal farmers.
The agriculture ministry and TAs are aware of the predicament communal farmers, especially livestock producers, find themselves in as a result of non-existent or dilapidated fences.
If infrastructure development on communal land was/is perhaps done on regional needs, there are decades-old records on fencing needs in all Namibia’s communal areas.
They include the Zambezi, Kavango and other northern regions where various infrastructure development worth millions of euros took place.
All stakeholders, role-players and decision-makers must start seriously investing in communal land fencing.
Those with power (political), money and influence have fenced off land in communal areas. They know why fencing is important.
So why not extend a “better helping hand” to the poor and willing communal farmer to allow him/her to sustainably and productively engage in Namibia’s agriculture sector?
- Alvenus F Dreyer is a socio-economic justice activist.