Namibia is one of eleven countries in Africa and Asia set to benefit from the Global Environment Facility-funded programme on dryland landscapes.
Under this programme, Namibia is developing an integrated landscape management project to reverse degradation and support the sustainable use of natural resources in the Mopane-Miombo belt of northern Namibia. The project will cost US$6,9 million (N$100 million). A workshop to launch the project was held in Windhoek on Tuesday last week. The Food and Agriculture Organisation will be the lead agency for the project, whose main objectives are to avoid, reduce and reverse further degradation, desertification and deforestation of dry lands. FAO Namibia will work with the ministries of environment and of agriculture in the implementation of the project that will run for five years.
The objective of the project is to support a transformation towards a sustainable management of multi-use dryland landscapes in northern Namibia. Speaking at the workshop, deputy environment minister Bernadette Jagger, said GEF has provided considerable support to Namibia for the implementation of biodiversity conservation, combating desertification and climate change.
She said over 32 national projects worth almost US$70 million (N$1 billion) have been supported by GEF since 1998. Jagger added that the GEF has created opportunities for countries to participate in "impact programmes" to tackle drivers of environmental degradation, in an integrated fashion.
Jagger said land degradation is a major challenge in the country's national planning. It manifests itself in drylands through overgrazing and overstocking, bush encroachment, deforestation, soil and water degradation linked to decreased quantities and quality. Jagger said Namibia submitted its expression of interest to participate in the impact programme to the GEF in January this year.
"The expression of interest was approved during the 56th meeting of the Global Environment Facility in June 2019 and I am pleased that Namibia will take its place in implementing this programme alongside 10 countries - Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimabwe, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan and Mongolia - with the miombo and mopane ecosystems," said Jagger.
FAO Namibia Country Representative, Farayi Zimudzi, said some of the drivers of land degradation are climate change, population pressure (in some areas), poverty and poor soils. She said it is clear that some of these drivers are within human control and something can be done about them if people can join forces.
Zimudzi said drivers of land degradation which are beyond control, people can devise ways to limit their contribution to land degradation and ultimately ensure sustainable livelihoods for those who draw benefits from the various natural resources on offer.
According to FAO, dry lands extend over 40% of the earth's surface, containing some of the most fragile and threatened ecosystems on the planet, including over one quarter of global biodiversity hot spots and many threatened species.