Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson opening the OMD2030 HUB Market and Community Center

Ambassador Johnson (center), Oranjemund Mayor Henry Coetzee (right) and Helena Penda (left), OMD2030 HUB Market Project Manager, cut the ribbon to officially open the OMD2030 Hub Market and Community Center in Oranjemund on February 8.

Oranjemund – I’m happy to see such a great turnout for the opening of the OMD2030 Hub Market and Community Center.

This project, as many of you know, was supported with funds from the U.S. Embassy through the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund.

The Self-Help Program allows the United States to respond directly to the needs of local communities.  Since 1990, the U.S. government has awarded more than N$30 million in Self-Help grants to small, community-led development projects across Namibia.

The Self-Help program is just one part of U.S. assistance to Namibia.  This year, the U.S. government will donate over $1 billion Namibian dollars to assist Namibia in striving for HIV/AIDS epidemic control.  We also have other programs that support conservation, anti-poaching, and civil society organizations.

We receive hundreds of Self-Help program applications each year, and it is difficult to choose among so many deserving projects.

When we look at which projects to fund, we look for projects that are truly community driven, that will provide economic benefit to a community, and that will be sustainable and self-supporting.

We saw that potential in OMD2030 and the Hub Market and Community Center project.  I hope that everyone will continue to work to make this market and center a vital part of Oranjemund’s business and community life — and that it will be going strong in years to come.

Projects like this one are important in supporting Oranjemund’s diversification beyond the diamond industry.  Attracting tourism, creative agricultural solutions, and small businesses is important for a vibrant local economic life here.

I know that such diversification after having been a single-industry town for so long is a major challenge.  Seeing this market and community center come together gives me confidence that you all are up to the challenge.

I applaud OMD2030 for coming up with creative solutions, thinking about what’s next, and working to ensure Oranjemund’s future is a bright one.

Finally, I would like to recognize the Peace Corps’ role in community and economic development.  The Peace Corps provides support for communities in all kinds of ways — and on projects such as this one.

Thank you all for hosting me here today.  I’m delighted to be in  Oranjemund for a second time since I arrived in Namibia last year.

Now I look forward to exploring the market and seeing what’s on offer.