By William J. Mbangula
The personal health of Namibians and future generations is dependent on how the current generation handles the environment, as well as the kind of environment future generations will inherit from their forebears.
This was said by the Director of Health in Oshana and member of the University of Namibia (Unam) Northern Campus Council, Dr Naftali Hamata, at the launch of the Environmental Awareness Club of the centre.
Hamata, who was keynote speaker, commended the initiators of the club saying that most people want a clean environment but do little or nothing to achieve it.
The establishment of the club is but one answer to the urgent need to address the environmental degradation currently taking place in Namibia, mostly north of the red line, he noted.
Said Hamata: “Namibia and in particular our towns south of the red line are known for their cleanliness. What about north of the red line? Why the need for environmental awareness? Why the need to establish a club?”
As part of the environment, said Hamata, people need to co-exist in the environment with other living and non-living matter. In order to preserve the environment for future generations, the flora and fauna should be protected but not destroyed. He encouraged club members and their sponsors to plan, organise and implement plans for a singular purpose, to ensure hygiene and cleanliness, to persist with cleaning campaigns wherever they find themselves in Namibia and to leave no room for discouragement.
Quoting an old saying, he said: “Remember that what the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind of man can achieve.”
In his view, a change of attitudes takes 7-10 years. Therefore, he cautioned the founders of the club and their supporters not to allow the idea to die before or after attitude change. One of the critical issues he advised the club members to focus on is forging a close working relationship with one of the powerful instruments of communication, namely, the media because he believes it has the power to influence people.
Outlining the main objectives of the project, Club Chairperson Martha Shiyanga, who is also a member of the Students Representative Council (SRC) responsible for Community Development and Gender Affairs, said the environmental awareness body will act as a common interest group and will be involved in policies, events, education and outreach programmes in areas related to environmental management.
She said: “The club which started only with nine people and has now 47 members intends to raise awareness on environmental issues through concert and drama groups, as well as to undertake tours to different places of interest as far as conservation is concerned.”
The club would want to continue touring, depending on the support it gets from well-wishers. Shiyanga explained that this year alone the club plans to undertake a number of activities including learning more about trees that are endemic to north-central Namibia and surrounding areas, different grass species and their use, types of wildlife that coexist with the community and the role they play in an ecosystem.
Other envisaged activities include leading the communities in cleaning campaigns to rid the degraded areas of bottles, papers, filth and waste materials currently strewn around many places. This will be done with the main purpose of educating people on how pollution affects everyone.
The club is financially supported (including the launch) by the Windhoek-based Cleaner Production company.