22 January 2013

Namibia: Ministry Develops Land-Use Plan for Kavango

Windhoek — The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement is developing an Integrated Regional Land-Use Plan (IRLUP) for the Kavango Region.

The N$4 million tender to develop the IRLUP was awarded to a group of companies that include Stubenrauch Planning Consultants, AHT, Geocarta and the Southern Africa Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA).

Land-use planning is important to ensure sustainability, to select and to adopt environmentally friendly and best land-use plan options to increase economic growth and mitigate land-use conflicts. During colonial times, indigenous communities were removed from the most productive land and banished to marginal and tribal homelands.

These confinements are now increasingly becoming too small to support the inhabitants residing there. "We observe that the population growth, which is coupled with inappropriate management of the natural resources mainly in our communal areas has led to the degradation of land and the consequent increase of poverty in these areas," the lands ministry's permanent secretary, Lidwina Shapwa, said at the inception workshop of the Kavango IRLUP.

The Karas IRLUP has already been finalised, while one for the Hardap Region has been submitted to the ministry only recently. The cost of the two southern plans amounted to N$7.3 million.

Shapwa said work in the Kavango Region would be more complex, compared to the southern plans due to its vastness, agro-ecological diversity, its wider communal lands, as well as its cultural and ethnic diversity.

The Kavango Region is characterised by uneven distribution of population and access to the rest of the region is also a challenge, especially given the limited road infrastructure. The Kavango IRLUP will be completed over the next fourteen months. Shapwa said it is government's plan to develop IRLUPs for all 13 regions, which will eventually be consolidated to form a National Land-Use Plan.

Prior to the Karas and Hardap IRLUPs, Namibia had carried out four IRLUP projects for the Kunene and Caprivi regions, the four north-central regions, as well as the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions combined, dating back as far as 1999. However, only the two land-use plans for the Kunene and Caprivi regions were approved.

All four plans have shortcomings, which include the absence of appropriate stakeholder involvement and consideration of inter-sectoral integration during the planning phases. Moreover, no digital maps or data were produced to enable a constant update and monitoring of plans and their implementation.

With the development of the current IRLUPs it is envisaged that development programmes will become more holistic and comprehensive, so that all factors that are significant to natural resources development and environmental conservation are addressed and included.

The official launch workshop of the Kavango IRLUP will take place starting tomorrow until Friday, at Rundu. The workshop is intended to identify planned and ongoing projects and programmes in the Kavango Region at a national level.

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