10 Nov 2010 - Story by Catherine Sasman
THE Karas Region stretc-hes over 161Ã‚Â 325 square ki-lometres. It has six constituencies: LÃƒÂ¼deritz, Berseba, Oranjemund, Karasburg, Keetmanshoop Urban and Keetmanshoop Rural.
According to the 2000 census, the region's population was calculated at 69Ã‚Â 400, and estimations were that the population would grow to 75Ã‚Â 200 by 2010.
Predominant languages are Afrikaans, Nama and Damara, Otjiherero and Oshiwambo.
Keetmanshoop is the main centre of the region, where the regional council is located.
The main economic activities of the region are mining and Government services.
Another important sector is agriculture, ' game farming and hunting, forestry and fishing.
The Aussenkehr irrigation scheme produces grapes along the Orange River. Fruit, grape and date production is taking place at Naute Dam near Keetmanshoop.
The region's mining industry has always been a major contributor to Government revenue.
Diamond mining in the area of Oranjemund in particular, still forms one of the largest contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Rosh Pinah mines for copper, zinc, tin, silver and lead. Around Aus, there is mining in gemstones and marble.
Another big mining enterprise, the Skorpion Zinc Mine is operating close to Rosh Pinah.
Considerable economic activities are centred in LÃƒÂ¼deritz, and the mining towns Oranjemund and Rosh Pinah.
Tourism is also on the increase. Government has started the LÃƒÂ¼deritz Waterfront Project, and the Sperrgebiet land-use plan was developed to attract more tourism to the area.
The Karas Region provides an important national railway and road junction to South Africa and the rest of Namibia.
In August this year, Karas Governor, Dawid Boois, who is from the Swapo Party, said the main challenges of the region include a high rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence, a high rate of alcohol and drug abuse, crime, and high poverty rates.
He went on to say that there is a general lack of technical skills, and similarly pointed out that there is a need to mainstream Nama-speaking people residing there into the regional economy, adding though that there is a 'low business drive among the Nama people'.
He further stated that there is a lack of regional role models in different areas of life.
The Karasburg Constituency is 400 square kilometres large. Main centres are Karasburg, GrÃƒÂ¼nau, the two southern border towns Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer, and Warmbad.
A process is currently underway to proclaim Aussenkehr and Noord-oewer towns.
Government has given the green light for Desert Star, a brand new development recently announced, to be declared as a town on its own, according to the Karasburg constituency office.
This project promises to boost the film industry in southern Africa, boosting tourism in the region.
Its population is 16Ã‚Â 000, with dominant languages like Afrikaans, Nama and Damara, Oshiwambo and English. In 2004, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) estimated a 62.5 percent employment rate.
The constituency's main economic activities are grape farming along the Orange River and small-stock farming.
A total of 2Ã‚Â 000 hectares of grape production is currently under irrigation at Aussenkehr with plans for expansion. There is also grape production at Komsberg and Noord-oewer.
There are four clinics in the constituency ' in Ariamsvlei, GrÃƒÂ¼nau, Aussenkehr, and Warmbad.
The constituency has one hospital in Karasburg and one health centre at Noordoewer.
The area has 10 schools, which include one senior secondary and one junior secondary school in Karasburg. Warmbad recently inaugurated a community-learning centre.
A primary school was established at Aussenkehr, and two additional classrooms and an administrative block have been built at the Noordoewer Primary School.
Roads Authority is constructing houses in Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer, and rehabilitation of the Ai-Ais Tourists Resort was done.
Warmbad has established a hot-spring resort.
The road network consists of mostly gravel, which is in good condition.
The councillor for the Karasburg Constituency is Swapo Party candidate Paulus Ephraim.
The Oranjemund Constituency spans over 27 700 square kilometres, with major mining town Oranjemund and Rosh Pinah. Oranjemund mines diamonds, while the Rosh Pinah and Skorpion Zinc mines explore zinc, lead, and copper.
Its population is estimated at 18Ã‚Â 200, and has an employment rate of 52 percent.
The dominant languages are Afrikaans, English and Oshiwambo. Other languages include Nama and Damara, Otjiherero, Rukwangali and Caprivi languages.
The Oranjemund constituency office said major developments currently underway include a training project at Rosh Pinah, and a pilot project in mariculture. The development of small and medium enterprises is another priority for the constituency.
The Sendelingsdrift border post opened for tourists in 2008, and the Aus-Rosh Pinah road was completed.
The constituency has two public health clinics at Oranjemund and Rosh Pinah, one mining clinic and one private hospital. There are three private schools.
The regional councillor for the Oranjemund Constituency is Swapo Party candidate Toivo Nambala.
Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency
The Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency consists of a number of villages and farming areas. These are the Aroab village, KoÃƒÂ«s village, KrÃƒÂ¶nlein suburb in Keetmanshoop, the Naute Dam Farm, Klein Karas Settlement, Seeheim Farm and district, a commercial farm and a number of resettlement farms.
The constituency borders the Karasburg Constituency in the south, LÃƒÂ¼deritz Constituency in the south-west, Keetmanshoop Urban in the west and reaches the Hardap Region in the north.
Its constituency office is in Aroab, which is regarded as the main centre from where all developmental and other activities are spearheaded and coordinated.
The population sizes of Kronlein, the commercial centre and resettlement farms are unknown. An estimated 160 to 170 people are at the Naute Dam Farm, 35 to 40 at the Klein Karas Settlement, and 20 to 30 at the Seeheim Farm and district.
Most of the farms are white-owned, with less than 10 farms belonging to upcoming resettled and other types of farms belonging to black farmers.
The main languages spoken are Afrikaans, Nama-Damara, English, and languages of northern Namibia. The lingua franca is Afrikaans. While not providing an exact figure, the office of the Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency stated that the employment rate is 'very low'.
Most of the people are full-time or part-time farm labourers, seasonal workers mostly at Naute Dam, or are in the public service ' teachers, police officers, and the like.
The main economic activities are farming with sheep, goats and cattle. There are no mining or any other activities in the constituency.
Current Government capital projects in the area are gardening, needlework and small-scale animal husbandry at Aroab.
At KoÃƒÂ«s, there are gardening, brick-making and small-scale goat-keeping projects. At Klein Karas, there are also gardening and farming projects. The nearest hospital to the constituency is the Keetmanshoop State Hospital at Keetmanshoop, health centres at Aroab, and a clinic at KoÃƒÂ«s.
The constituency office said well-kept gravel roads link the various villages and farms.
The regional councillor is Willem Appollus. Other councillors are Barthomeus Rooi (DTA), Jakobus Jobs (Swapo Party), Elizabeth Coetzee (CoD), Anna Titus (DTA), and Lewes Hartung (CoD).