The Rössing Foundation was established in 1978 through a Deed of Trust as a vehicle to oversee and implement many of Rössing Uranium’s corporate social responsibility activities in Namibia.
Overall, the year 2020 will go down in history as a year full of challenges that were aggravated by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone in Namibia unawares and the Erongo Region was hard hit by ongoing lockdowns as it became an epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia. However, the Rössing Foundation was able to navigate the crisis successfully and introduced alternative modes of reaching out to the communities it serves.
After the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations during July 2020, face-to-face programmes and project activities resumed, while everyone using the Foundation’s facilities were required to adhere to precautionary measures that have been put in place through World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS).
Those community members who were unable to attend face-to-face sessions had to be assisted through virtual teaching.
The task force that was appointed by the Executive Director of the Rössing Foundation has worked painstakingly to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and explored other means of teaching by capitalising on other media platforms such as WhatsApp and e-learning, radio, online resources, and the sharing of materials and uploading material on to the Rössing Foundation website.
LIVELIHOOD AND ENTERPRISE-DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
SUPPORT TO ARANDIS SMALL- AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMES)
During the year under review, six Arandis-based enterprises were given coaching and guidance on how to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses. Two of the SMEs were able to adjust from their usual business operations and started producing washable masks. The wearing of face masks in public places became mandatory in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and the entrepreneurs saw a business opportunity, which they grabbed.
One such beneficiary of the training was Augusto Somombura who owns a construction business in Arandis. He completed his bricklaying and plastering course at the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology with funding assistance from the Rössing Foundation. After completing his training, he commented: “The training gave me the knowledge to build my business and employ more people.” He currently has a team of 16 employees.
Furthermore, the six SMEs who have been supported by the Foundation and are beneficiaries of Erongo Development Foundation Micro-Finance Scheme are current with their loan repayments. Lockdown, however, impacted their sales and therefore their cash flow. As a result, some have approached the financier to restructure their loan agreements as part of the mitigation measures designed to help these businesses survive.
Contractor Augusto Somombura, one of the Arandisbased SMEs that received support and training from the Rössing Foundation.
OKOMBAHE COMMUNITY DEBUSHING ENTERPRISE
The Okombahe Community Debushing Enterprise aims at eradicating two invasive tree species, namely the Prosopis and A. Marrifera trees from the Omaruru river basin in the Daures constituency, Erongo Region.
The invader tree species are harvested for an environmental benefit to avoid continuous bush encroachment in the Omaruru River, to conserve underground water, to restore grazing areas and for rural socio-economic benefits. To date, the enterprise has employed five people who are now able to make a living through the project and support their families. The project is producing firewood, fodder, and fencing poles, which are sold in the informal and formal markets at the coastal towns.
SUPPORT TO ÛIBA ÔAS CRYSTAL MARKET
The long-standing institutional development and business relations between Ûiba Ôas Co-operative and Rössing Foundation has yielded favourable fruits as the co-operative continued to gain strength in terms of business leadership.
Despite the growth and sustainability potential, this enterprise was heavily affected by the lockdown, as most of its income is derived from tourism activities. The Foundation liaised with Government institutions and assisted the co-operative to apply for COVID-19 economic stimulus packages to mitigate the adverse impact of lockdown on their businesses.
At the request of the Rössing Foundation, the Ministry of Trade, Industrialisation and SMEs Support approved training on value addition for co-operative members. However, the training was cancelled due to the ongoing lockdown in Erongo Region. The training is of paramount importance and will be put on the agenda in 2021.
To increase visibility of the Crystals Market to passers-by and tourists, three information sign boards were erected along the B2 road. The Foundation has also assisted the co-operative to explore the possibility of exporting their products to United States of America. The negotiations and logistics around this initiative are yet to be finalised.
MITIGATING HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT IN OMATJETE DISTRICT
The Rössing Foundation, through the financial support from the Game Product Trust Fund of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, is currently working with the Omatjete community to mitigate human-elephant conflicts by building protection walls around community water points and building separate drinking points for the wild animals.
The interventions were initiated from a broader-based consultation with the affected communities and stakeholders after water points that supply water to the villages were damaged by elephants. Three water points were completed by the end of year 2020 and two separate elephant drinking water points will be constructed in 2021.
SUPPORT TO OSHIKUKU GARDENING PROJECT
Through the grant from the Social Security Commission, the Rössing Foundation continued supporting the agribusiness development in Oshikuku, Omusati Region in 2020. The purpose of this development is to create employment opportunities, strengthen the local economy, contribute towards local food production, and general rural development.
The project has so far employed eleven community members on a full-time basis, and one casual worker. During the year under review, the project managed to cultivate various vegetables on 1.8 hectares of land. The project supplies fresh vegetables to the local community and the surrounding villages.
Despite good progress being made, the project faced a decrease in water supply towards the end of the year and that limited the project’s ability to put more land under cultivation for optimal production. The two water pumps constantly experienced mechanical problems and this required a different intervention to ensure a sustainable water supply. A solar water pumping system was recommended and a decision was taken to install a solar system to ensure a long-lasting solution regarding water supply.
THE PROJECT HAS SO FAR EMPLOYED ELEVEN COMMUNITY MEMBERS ON A FULL-TIME BASIS, AND ONE CASUAL WORKER.
"The project supplies fresh vegetables to the local community and the surrounding villages."
TEACHER AND LEARNER SUPPORT PROGRAMMES
TEACHER SUPPORT PROGRAMMES
As much as Covid-19 has affected face-to-face teaching and learning, the lifting of the lockdown has resulted in a total of 104 teachers being supported in different subjects during 2020 at the Rössing Foundation Centres in Arandis, Ondangwa and Tamariskia.
In addition, 12 teachers were assisted with teaching and learning materials in Physics topics such as electrolysis, chemical reactions, nuclear physics, and chemical bonds, among others. Two Mathematics teachers were supported with worksheets and topic specific materials for grades 8, 11 and 12, with a total of 58 learners benefitting from these materials. A total of 17 teachers were supported with teaching and learning materials through emailing and a WhatsApp group platform. Question papers for grades 10, 11, 12 and Grammar videos were also shared with the teachers.
The three Rössing Foundation Centres supported 309 learners during the first quarter of 2020. The second quarter commenced with COVID-19 challenges and innovative teaching and learning approaches were used to assist the teachers and learners.
The Ondangwa Centre also supported 82 learners and 12 community members who wanted to improve English communication skills. The community members consisted mainly of marginalised community members from Opuwo who enrolled to improve English fluency.
The fourth quarter of 2020 saw relaxation of pandemic-related regulations and some learners could attend face-to-face sessions, while others benefitted from virtual teaching and learning.
The face-to-face sessions resulted in 168 grade 12 learners being supported in English tutorials and materials in Grammar.
PHYSICAL SCIENCE, PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY
The Arandis Centre supported 98 learners, while the Tamariskia Centre supported 132 learners. The Ondangwa Centre supported 218 grade 10 and 12 learners. In total, 448 learners benefitted from the Foundation programmes during the first quarter of 2020.
During the second quarter of 2020, the operation of all three Rössing Foundation centres slowed down due to pandemic-related regulations. At the Erongo Centre special measures were resorted to and a total of 431 learners were assisted through WhatsApp group platforms.
At the Ondangwa Centre, 49 learners who registered at the Science centre took matters into their own hands by posting questions with their solutions on the WhatsApp platform, while another 37 learners were registered on the Physical Science WhatsApp group.
"The frequency of the library usage increased during the fourth quarter of 2020 due to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.”
NATURAL SCIENCE AND HEALTH EDUCATION (NSHE)
A total of 397 Senior Primary of grade 4 learners from Arandis and Tamariskia and 14 grade 7 learners from Ondangwa Centre benefitted from the Rössing Foundation’s programmes at this level. The Foundation team continued with virtual support via WhatsApp during the third and fourth quarters, and a total of 95 learners were registered and supported on WhatsApp groups that were created for 40 grade 4, and 55 grade 7 learners from U.B. Dax Primary School, and Arandis Primary School.
The Master Maths programme is a computer-based, interactive programme geared towards equipping learners with mathematical problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, numeracy, and mathematical competencies in real life situations. The Master Maths Centres in Erongo Region supported 230 learners from grades 4 to 12. The Ondangwa Centre supported 278 learners thought the Master Maths Programme. The COVID-19 interventions adversely affected learners’ attendance.
LIFE SCIENCE AND BIOLOGY
A total of 149 grade 4, 7 and 12 learners were supported at all the Rössing Foundation Centres during the year. Of the 149 registered learners, only 34 were able to access information on to the WhatsApp group.
During the second and third quarter of 2020, as was expected, library services were adversely affected by the lockdowns, especially the two centres in the Erongo Region. The Ondangwa library operated normally, as the Oshona Region did not experience lockdowns. The third quarter saw the Arandis and Tamariskia libraries functioning again with 195 learners of the planned 1,150 utilising the services.
The frequency of the libraries usage increased during the fourth quarter of 2020 due to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. A frequency of 2,610 of learners’ library usage was experienced, with 29 new members for the libraries. Twenty teachers benefitted from the library services, while 417 community members utilised the library services.
SPECIAL COMMUNITY SUPPORT INITIATIVES
Seven community members were trained in the introduction to computers, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher. Five of them completed the training and were awarded certificates after their successful completion of all modules.
SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND SCHOOL GOVERNANCE
The Social Accountability and School Governance Project is a programme of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture. The Social Accountability and School Governance Project is a programme of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
The overall objective of the project is to empower school communities to understand and be able to use social accountability tools and model systems to support and monitor school performance, and inform the education sector monitoring at local, regional, and national level.
The project is implemented through the support of UNICEF as a funding agency and the Rössing Foundation was contracted as an implementing partner to roll out the activities associated with the capacity building of school boards in the regions.
During the period under review, the Rössing Foundation planned to conduct the training of 100 trainers of school boards of the Ohangwena Region and provide backstopping support to regional trainers during the training of school boards from schools in northern Kunene, Oshana, and Ohangwena Regions.
However, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the training of school boards itself was not done, but the training of the Ohangwena school board trainers was conducted in February and March 2020.
The objective of the training was to enable school board trainers to roll out the actual school board training in the entire region. In total, 111 school board trainers were trained, representing 111 per cent participation in the training.