U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Randy Berry traveled to Tsumkwe from August 2 to 4 to meet with community leaders, students, conservation actors, and health service providers.
During his two-day visit, Ambassador Berry paid a courtesy call to the Mangetti Dune Health Centre, where he met the nurse-in-charge and tuberculosis (TB) field promoter for a walk-through of the facility. The nurse explained the HIV/TB services offered at the site through the support of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PEPFAR supports the health center through partnering with the Ministry of Health and Social Services to provide comprehensive services supporting the prevention and treatment of HIV and TB. During the visit, the nurse highlighted significant challenges the community faces, such as long distances from the communities to health facilities, and challenges with transport.
On August 3, Ambassador Berry visited Tsumkwe Secondary School, where he engaged with grade 11 learners. The Ambassador gave an overview of the work the U.S. Embassy does in Namibia, strengthening bilateral relations by increasing free trade and investment to grow an inclusive economy in Namibia, empowering a rules-based democracy, and unleashing Namibia’s human potential through health and education. He further shared various opportunities the Embassy provides and encouraged the learners to strive for excellence in their educational journey.
Later that morning, Ambassador Berry paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Ju’/hoansi Traditional Authority, Tsamkxao ‡Oma Bobo. During their discussions, Chief Bobo underscored the dual challenges facing his community, extreme poverty and lack of education. Ambassador Berry expressed his openness to take on challenges highlighted by Chief Bobo by seeking to attract more U.S. investment which will accelerate broad-based economic development for his community and Namibia at large. Ambassador Berry then visited the Tsumkwe Clinic Integrated Food Systems Project, a project funded by the World Food Program (WFP) which aims to create an integrated community-based food system around the clinic. The goal is to empower small-scale agriculture in the community, allowing for better nutrition and economic opportunity. He further saw economic and community development in action in villages outside Tsumkwe settlement, where enterprising farmers grow and sell higher-value crops like papaya, and drying devil’s claw harvested from the area. These efforts, supported by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation Namibia (NNDFN), focus on empowering communities around Tsumkwe to improve their quality of life both economically and socially.
Ambassador Berry concluded his day with a meeting with the Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Community Forest (NNCCF). The NNCCF is a community-based organization, responsible for managing the natural resources in Nyae Nyae area. During their discussions, the leadership highlighted how conservancy provides much-needed income for the constituency through conservation hunting, tourism, crafts, and agriculture – principally driven by the harvesting of the devil’s claw for commercial use. However, conservation actors agreed that though conservation is regarded as the economic driver for the Tsumkwe settlement, the area still faces severe economic and social challenges due in part to the remote location and arid climate.
When asked about his trip, Ambassador Berry had this to say, “the trip provided valuable insights into the realities of life in a remote corner of Namibia, which is rich in natural and cultural heritage. Information from the visit will help focus U.S. programs and efforts to respond to real needs on the ground”.