OTJIWARONGO: A two-day consultative meeting to assess public participation and opinions on the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development’s decentralisation programme started here on Wednesday.
The ministry engaged consultants from the Namibia Development Trust (NDT) to help it to conduct a meeting and later on, a survey on the participation of the public on its decentralisation programme, which was launched in 1997.
Santos Jaos, a consultant leading the meeting here on Wednesday, explained that the programme is aimed at taking government services of crucial sectors closer to the majority of Namibians living in the remotest areas of the country.
He explained that the ministry has found it fit to consult key development partners in all regions to evaluate appropriate communication means in each region through which decentralisation information can be shared with the public.
Jaos said the ministry wants to see a situation in which its information on decentralisation would be targeted at the right community members, who in return will also communicate development proposals to the ministry.
This is because in general, the ministry has found that this mutual communication on rural development and decentralisation matters does not take place.
Otjozondjupa Regional Governor Rapama Kamehozu launched the public participation consultative meeting at the Otjozondjupa Regional Council Chamber.
He urged participants to see to it that basic understanding on public participation and policy development is acquired.
“Enhance your knowledge, skills and abilities relating to the development of our public policies and make a meaningful contribution to the success of this important consultative meeting on public participation and decentralisation,” said Kamehozu.
He also urged consultants to ensure that a practical guide is formulated to help regional council members involved in decentralisation programmes to develop a clear understanding of what they are expected to do.
On his part, Otjozondjupa Regional Council Chairman Otto Iipinge said he wants to see the meeting, as well as the actual survey on public participation, addressing the real needs of the region.
“The aim of the consultative meeting and its survey is to understand our people’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions on the decentralisation reform, as well as on the regional and local authority councils’ roles and functions,” said Iipinge.
He indicated that the consultative meeting will also increase the ability of citizens to hold government officials and their elected political representatives accountable.
Similar consultative meetings were held in the Khomas, Hardap, Karas, Omaheke and Kunene Regions, amongst others in 2006.