By Wezi Tjaronda
Some Windhoek residents want the coastal area to be zoned and incorporate all land uses.
“I see the coast as a land of many uses. I don’t want mining to stop, neither do I want quad biking to be stopped. I also do not want geckoes and Damara terns to die,” said a Windhoek resident at a recent meeting that was called to discuss the draft Namibian Coastal White Paper.
The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management (NACOMA) project has been convening public consultative meetings in the four coastal regions of Erongo, Karas, Hardap and Kunene to solicit the views of the public, which would be incorporated in the policy.
The white paper will become a government blueprint to guide the management of the Namibian coastline, dune belt and desert nature reserves.
The policy is aimed at protecting the fragile coastal area stretching from the Kunene to the Orange River. Forming part of the area is the tourist zone between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, where quad biking and off-road driving have destroyed the sensitive ecosystems endemic to this area.
The few residents that attended the meeting in Windhoek said they want the establishment of initiatives that would benefit local communities while conserving it from destruction. The idea behind this is that people care more about things they benefit from.
Some of the communities in the coastal regions have not seen the coast from which their forefathers are said to have earned a living.
Others want the coastal areas to have more affordable accommodation facilities that would encourage domestic tourism in Namibia. This would in turn create jobs and reduce the soaring unemployment level.
Dr Francois Odendaal, Director of Eco Africa, said the coast, one of Namibia’s most valuable resources, was diminishing. The coast has between 1977 and 2004 experienced dramatic changes.
He said in the past three decades, life has become hard for the Topnaars as the water table is falling, the sea is munching away at the coast, and the sea level is rising, while fish and crayfish resources have taken a beating.
While conservation and development should go hand in hand, Odendaal said the two should be guided by policy.
The Namibian coast is rich in biological diversity and has a variety of features and many special areas that need protection as they offer tourist attractions and other economic benefits.