21 September 2012

Namibia: Land Degradation Causes Poverty

Windhoek — Namibia is the driest African country south of the Sahara, sandwiched between two deserts and plagued by extreme variations in rainfall.

"As a result, Namibia and its entire people have to adapt to environmental hardships," said the Governor of the Khomas Region, Samuel Nuuyoma, in a speech on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah earlier this week.

Nuuyoma was speaking at the official opening of the International Conference on Sustainable Land Resource Management.

The governor said the conference recognised land degradation as a growing problem, which manifests in deforestation, bush encroachment, destruction through fire, water degradation both in terms of availability and quality, soil degradation and changes in vegetation.

Together these forms of degradation reduce the productivity of land resources and the benefits that society gains from such resources, such as income, food, jobs and shelter.

"Given that about 70 percent of Namibians are directly dependent on subsistence agriculture and livestock husbandry for their livelihoods, land degradation is a major threat and driver of poverty," the governor noted.

He added that land degradation is a significant problem threatening not only Namibia's ecological integrity, but also the wellbeing of its people, particularly in rural areas.

"A serious constraint to food security and to socio-economic development is the doubting threat to the attainment of our Vision 2030," said Nuuyoma. It is specifically for this reason that the Country Pilot Partnership Programme for Integrated Sustainable Land Management (CPP - ISLM) was designed, to address national development priorities such as Vision 2030 and the national development plans.

The governor attested to the achievements of the Country Pilot Project, which has, amongst others, improved capacity at various levels and has unearthed innovative approaches such as the Innovative Grant Mechanism that provides communities with direct and alternative income generation and capacity building in terms of integrated sustainable land management.

"As we enter the next phase of the way forward, I encourage you to think about measures that will advance initiatives implemented under the CPP. For the next time or any project in future, we must come back to find that the communities have realised double, if not triple, their profits," Nuuyoma urged conference delegates.

The conference ends today (Friday) with delegates expected to inspect some of the community projects supported by the CPP.

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