26 April 2012

Namibia: Environment Takes Over Land Management Programme

NAMIBIA's key environmental threats include desertification, deforestation, land degradation and climate change.

These threats, which also include veld fires, bush encroachment and water pollution, are largely responsible for the loss of land productivity, which again translates into reduced production of livestock, crops and quality of life and thus have an effect on income and the promotion of poverty.

During 2004, Government identified land degradation as a serious problem which should be addressed and therefore introduced the Country Pilot Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Land Management Programme to combat this phenomenon and to assure the integrity of dry-land ecosystems and ecosystem services.

The programme is funded through a grant from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to the tune of N$12 million for five years, ending in December this year. Eight Ministries are involved in the operation of the project. Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told The Namibian that her Ministry will continue funding the project together with other partners.

"It will fall under the Directorate of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry and we will continue with the project. We will make money available from the Environmental Investment Fund for this purpose."

According to her, the project includes support for livestock marketing, conservation agriculture, rangeland management, aquaculture, horticulture and mushroom production, devil's claw and melon seed harvesting, honey production and poultry farming.

A total of 3 000 individuals and community members have been trained in various aspects of production and natural resource management, while 212 households have received stud goats to improve their flocks' body weight and drought tolerance.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Olushandja community in the Omusati Region has received a cold-storage facility which can contribute to higher incomes and food security.

"They have also introduced conservation agriculture on selected grain crops and this could contribute to increased yields."

A total of 73 marketing kraals run by livestock marketing committees have been established and Meatco is one of the collaborating partners.

The only hiccup, according to the Minister, is a general shortage of extension officers trained in various aspects of agricultural and natural resource management.

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