By Morten Rønning
The NORAD supported report does not make any final decision on the location of the power plant, either the Epupa or the Baynes alternative.
A development of the Epupa falls would lead to serious environmental and social problems, forced relocation of hundreds of Himbaes, destroy burial grounds and, among other things, make a newly discovered fish specie in the river extinct, according to the report.
The Baynes alternative is more economically risky, provides considerably less energy and is also dependent on a extension of the Gove dam in war devastated Angola. This alternative has far less negative environmental and social consequences.
Broke all contact
The analysis of the social consequences were never carried out, as the Himbaes broke all contact with the authorities.
Still, Norconsult hopes that they now can complete the studies of how to minimise the social consequences of a development.
Namang has hired Dr. Michael Bollig, who has the confidence of the Himbaes, to carry out what Trond Western of Norconsult calls «warm up meetings». Andrew Corbett of the Legal Assistance Centre, which assists the Himbaes in their contact with Namang, participated in the first meeting. Corbett says to NorWatch that the only thing that parts agree on is to continue to talk.
Norconsult hopes to carry out comprehensive talks with the Himbaes during January, which can lead to a program to minimise the social consequences.
Finally, this work hinges on whether or not the Himbaes will accept Namang's program.
Brief hearing deadline
The Namang report was also presented at a public meeting in Windhoek, where several Namibian environmental organisations were present.
Bertchen Kohrs in Earthlife Namibia says to NorWatch that the presentation was done in a "rough" way. The organisation complained about the very short deadline for comments of 2-3 weeks, hearing deadline and got it extended to 30th January 1998, when there will be held a «feedback meeting».
The semi-nomadic Himba people has recently been subject to strong pressure by the authorities. The authorities have also expressed at several occasions that the Epupa falls will be developed, regardless of what the Namang report says (see Newsletter 5/97).
At two occasions this summer, Namibian police broke up meetings between the Himbaes and the Legal Assistance Centre, with the argument that there had not been applied for permission to hold public meetings.
The matter was brought into Namibian court, which at the end of October ascertained that such meetings were allowed because they were of private character, writes the Namibian.
Norwatch Newsletter 18/97