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At home in Namibia

October 28, 2014

By Geroldine Sicot , Program Officer

Chairmaine Aukhumes used to feel ashamed when friends would visit her house. Aukhumes, a ranger at Etosha National Park in northern Namibia, and her two young children shared a cramped house with no running water or sanitation.

Thanks to MCC’s five-year, $304.5 million compact with Namibia, Aukhumes’ new home now features reliable electricity and running water. It’s one of 98 staff houses built as part of the compact’s Tourism Project, which sought to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park that serves as a major source of tourism and revenue for Namibia.

Recruiting and retraining park rangers has been a major challenge—in large part because of poor living accommodations. By improving housing, the Government of Namibia hopes to increase the quality and experience of its park staff as it also promotes efforts to attract more international visitors to Namibia.

Aukhumes said it’s already having an effect.

“I feel encouraged to do a better job,” Aukhumes said. “These houses boost our morale and make us want to work harder.”

In addition to the new houses, the project funded utility connections for an additional 54 plots of land where the government will build additional housing if the park staff expands.

And if staff retention is the goal, Aukhumes is already thinking long-term.

“I have 20 years left before retiring,” she said, “and I am looking forward to enjoying many years in this home.”