STAKEHOLDERS at the launch of the Namibia Cleanliness Awareness Systems Awards (Namcasa) hailed environmental education as important in protecting the country's fragile environment.
The initiative aims to, among others, curb the number of deaths resulting from poor environmental conditions and practices.
Project founder Nathalia Shikangala said the initiative is designed to promote the cleanliness of the nation's living environments, and prevent environmentally and hygiene-related communicable diseases such as diarrhoea and hepatitis E.
"Water pollution, air pollution, solid waste, and climate change are some of the major environmental challenges, thus raising impacts on human health and the local environment. It shows that a significant proportion of households perceive that the availability of water and sanitation validates environmental cleanliness", she observed.
Highlighting that Namcasa's ultimate goal is to support the government in building a strong and efficient environmental cleanliness sector, Shikangala said the initiative will focus on providing information, increasing collaboration with wider development stakeholders, improving sector financing mechanisms, and enhancing participation from civil society and communities through the incentive of awards.
National Council chairperson Margaret Mensah-Williams echoed those sentiments, adding that the initiative would inspire the nation to develop positive attitudes towards cleaning up their surroundings, which in turn would contribute to economic growth by attracting investors.
Mensah-Williams is the patron of the Namcasa initiative.
"Protecting and cleaning the environment is a shared responsibility for all of us," she said.
"Namcasa is not just confined to cleaning the environment. It is primed to be a force for good in the lives of our young people," Mensah-Williams said.
She also expressed optimism that the initiative would assist in keeping the youth off the street by providing them with productive activities to focus on, and that it would bridge generational gaps by bringing young and old together for a shared vision.
Environment and tourism deputy minister, Bernadette Jagger committed the ministry's full support to the programme, hailing the initiative as a key player in a greater effort to manage waste and go green.
"This launch should set the tone for Namibia to embark on environmental cleanliness policy frameworks to internalise environmental cleanliness," she said.
"Man cannot live amidst waste. A clean environment is essential for human existence, where people can conduct business and create wealth," she noted.
Jagger urged for the 'dumping ground' mentality that exists amongst many of Namibia's communities to be replaced by a 'clean and green' mentality.
"I very much look forward to seeing Namcasa being supported in all spheres in advancing the benefits and efforts that will leave Namibia as the cleanest country in Africa," she said.