An environment initiative, aimed at turning Namibia into a green economy - step-by-step - has been pioneering efforts with youth groups across the country. The initiative, Eco Youth Family, was established in July 2020 and supported by Namibia Green Town organisation.
Lydia Kazapua, who holds several years of local authority administration - where waste management is a persistent problem - leads the project as consultant and founder.
According to Kazapua, the project aims to move the youths beyond the linear 'take-make-waste' model of production and consumption to one that is regenerative.
"We look at how to move Namibia to a circular economy system by equipping the youths with the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to build a system that works for Namibia society, the economy and environment.
The project's main aim is to achieve an environment with zero-waste - and for that, the project has been partnering with various municipalities in the Omaheke region and beyond to make this possible.
Currently, the project is active in seven Namibian towns of Namibia - Tsumeb, Khorixas, Gobabis, Witvlei, Stampriet, Oranjemund and Luderitz .
The youths get actively involved in the actual clean-up campaigns and lead efforts to secure a cleaner environment free from future waste dumping.
Despite its achievement, the project is beset with challenges ranging from low level of appreciation for environmental conservation to a lack of financial support to fully roll out the project.
Kazapua said the realisation of a great opportunity to create jobs and green business, especially for SMEs during Covid-19, is often overlooked by many.
On the positive side, the project has managed to equip 72 Eco Youth Family youths, who are participating in 55 youths forums across the country.
"The first comprehensive skill development training will start in Oranjemund town in July 2021, supported by the Namibia Green Town. The Ministry of Health and Social Services in collaboration with the Namibia Green Town has availed Senior Park to be used as a model for Zero Waste to Landfill; 50 trees were planted sponsored by NAMDEB and the office of the Namibia Green Town is currently operating there," Kazapua said.
Namibia Green Town is run by an advisory board, consisting of the mayors of the Namibia Green Town and partners.
At the policy level, green jobs are explicitly identified as a strategic pillar for job creation in the revised Namibian Employment Policy, which was launched by president Hifikepunye Pohamba in October 2013.
Namibia has highlighted a 'green economy' as one of the catalysts for generating rural wealth in Namibia. The green economy is an essential part of the Post Covid-19 Green Recovery Plan of government.
Experts had suggested in various media reports that the handling of wastes is an eternal problem; all societies are confronted with this issue. Their origins are very diverse; they could come from industrial activities, power production, shops, retail or household for instance. While in developed countries the collection is generally efficient and the disposal safe, the situation in developing countries is different, experts argue.
The municipal budgets of towns and cities do not allow the construction of advanced and expensive methods of disposal and the collection suffers from the age of vehicles. This generalisation is nevertheless not totally true, as the situation is extremely dependent on the country but also of the city considered.
Each city will need to adapt its waste management according to its size, climate, wealth and culture, amongst others.
A green economy could help Namibia develop a new carbon negative and water wise, thriving, clean green economy in the Namib desert and will assist the country to become the first Zero Emission country in Africa, playing a vital role in fighting climate change during this climate emergency thus creating a future worth living in.