For 25 years, the Erongo Development Foundation (EDF) has received support from various key stakeholders in the uranium industry and local Government, in a joint effort towards poverty alleviation.
Most notable of these development partners are the Erongo Regional Council, the Swakopmund Municipality, the Walvis Bay Municipality, the Namibian Uranium Association, Rössing Uranium through the Rössing Foundation, Swakop Uranium through the Swakop Uranium Foundation, Orano Mining Namibia, Bannerman Resources Namibia, Langer Heinrich Uranium, Bank Windhoek, and some fishing companies. Since 2016, the Namibian Uranium Association’s Uranium Institute provides all the secretarial services to the EDF and hosts the Trustee meetings.
The EDF is dedicated to implementing solutions that address poverty in the Erongo Region, using initiatives of NGOs, community-based organisations and public-private partnerships. The primary goal of the EDF is to advance projects that have quantifiable social, cultural and economic benefits to residents and communities in the Erongo Region. The key objectives of the EDF are to facilitate financial resources, technical assistance and other means of support from donor agencies to community members and organisations involved in poverty alleviation efforts, and to build partnerships with other developmental agencies and the private sector in order to identify and redress social and economic imbalances. In this regard, EDF runs a number of successful programmes that bring about meaningful impact and social change.
Erongo House of Safety
The Erongo House of Safety in Swakopmund was the first project initiated by EDF with support from Rössing Mine, the Erongo Regional Council, and Dr Möhrcken. It provides shelter for destitute and abused children. The building for the Erongo House of Safety was donated to EDF by the Rössing Mine, and was officially inaugurated by the then Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Nicky Iyambo on 13July 1998. However, as the building became older, it was decided to rather build a new House of Safety in line with Government Regulations. The process of selling the old building to the Swakopmund Municipality is almost complete, and the proceeds will be used to construct the new house.
Micro – finance Scheme
Another programme is the micro-finance credit scheme. The purpose of the credit scheme is to provide affordable finance to small businesses in the Erongo region, and to create institutions that deliver financial services to the poor, as they tend to be overlooked by the formal banking sector. The scheme assists individuals who do not have security, collateral or credit worthiness, to obtain loans from banks. The credit scheme was initiated through support from the Rössing Foundation, the Erongo Regional Council, and Bank Windhoek. The project has so far assisted more than 120 beneficiaries, and the success rate of repayment has been close to 75.
Leadership and professional skills development
EDF engages in leadership development through specific training initiatives. Beneficiaries of the Business Management for SMEs programme receive training in financial management, marketing and business planning. EDF also recognises the need for individuals to be work-ready before entering the workforce for the first time, and it offers bursaries and mentorship to individuals who do not have the financial means to attend the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology.
The EDF also provides support to smaller projects and community initiatives, that are in need of financial or technical assistance. For example, EDF solicited wheelchairs and donated them to disabled persons in the communities of the Erongo Region, and assisted small-scale miners with the replacement of their equipment, enabling them to continue with their projects.
A successful Public-Private Partnership
The cooperation between the uranium industry and the Erongo Development Foundation, and by extension, the Erongo Regional Council, is another good example of a fruitful private-public partnership exercise. It provides the industry with an opportunity to ensure that CSR projects are tailor-made to community needs, and assists regional government in addressing the pressing problems of the Region.
The Erongo Development Foundation (EDF) was officially launched by the late Hon. Daniel Tjongarero in 1996 and registered as a Trust.The rationale behind the establishment of the EDF was to create an efficient conduit for channelling donor funding to address poverty in the Erongo Region with the key philosophy to nurture a caring society (ubuntu). From the onset, the Namibian uranium industry has supported this noble organisation and its efforts to alleviate poverty in the region.