18 February 2013

Namibia: Environment Fund's Second Financial Boost

Windhoek — The Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) disbursed grants worth N$3.7 million to 12 beneficiaries last week. This is the second disbursement of funds since the EIF came into existence. Most of the 12 environmentally sustainable projects that received funding are based in the country's rural areas.

The EIF has received a constant stream of proposals for funding - 250 proposals valued at N$89 million - but has only approved and funded 18 projects worth N$7.4 million. The money has gone to benefit 3 200 community members with at least 138 people employed at the projects.

"I appreciate the work of the Environmental Investment Fund and its mandate. Resource allocations are the basis of power and wealth, freedom and prosperity," said the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, last week. The biggest challenge to achieving sustainable development is financing, as most Namibians have little access to capital and can therefore not directly benefit from the endowed resources.

The EIF was set up to promote the sustainable economic development of Namibia through investment and promotion of activities and projects that protect and maintain the natural and environmental resources of the country.

The EIF has designed different financing and disbursement products to support natural resource-based enterprises in the form of concessionary loans, interest rate subsidies on green loans, and to guarantee schemes.

The fund supports education, research, science, scholarships and job training programmes. In addition, key investment in green technologies, tourism development and community-based natural resource management including climate change adaptation is envisaged.

"All these developments are tied very closely to the aims and objectives of the NDP4 and I say with confidence that the fund is strategically placed to support low-hanging fruits that will enable us to attain NDP4. This is an exciting time, full of possibilities," Herunga highlighted.

Herunga noted that they are now working out strategies for long-term funding through partnerships with other financial institutions, tolls and investment structures. "The EIF will be busy consulting on these issues," he added.

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