Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta is gravely concerned that Namibia is gradually losing its status of being the cleanest country in Africa. Namibia has historically been considered the cleanest country on the continent.
Shifeta said litter is an eyesore in most of the towns, as well as along roadsides, especially in northern Namibia.
Formerly known as “the Garden Town”, Okahandja for example, used to be one of the cleanest places, but has of late been regarded a “filthy” place, with garbage scattered all over.
Shifeta noted, that not only does this create a bad impression among visitors and tourists to the area, but it is also a source of danger to inhabitants and animals. He pledged the ministry’s commitment to working closely with regional councils and local authorities, as well as local residents to address theproblem and to modernise the management of waste.
He urged Namibians to focus their minds on keeping the environment clean and safe from waste in order to regain the status of the cleanest country in Africa.
“This will help us to bring back our proud reputation as the cleanest country in Africa, increase the civic pride of our people in their environment and further open up more tourism opportunities for Namibia,” he said.
Namibia, as a member of the United Nations and the global community at large, yesterday commemorated World Environment Day under the local theme: ‘Namibia is not a trash bin’.
Since its inception in 1992 the World Environment Day celebration has become one of the many ways through which countries promote awareness about the environment and the importance of taking care of it.
It is a day that stimulates and encourages political debate and action towards protecting the environment. The theme adopted for this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Join the race to make the world a better place’.
Shifeta said the day is an appropriate occasion to re-commit ourselves “to ensuring that the sustainable development process provides to all our people health, nutrition, education and housing, so that all can live a life of dignity in a clean and healthy environment”.
The fundamental aim of this year’s celebration, the minister said, is to create awareness of the risks associated with waste and how it affects the environment and people’s health. Further, he said improper waste management could contaminate the soil, air and water with toxins, chemicals and disease-causing bacterial agents.
“Waste can be dangerous and can persist in the environment for a very long time if left unmanaged. To prevent damaging our ecosystems and maintain a high quality of life for our citizens we must manage our waste properly.
We need to change our lifestyle by adopting the three R’s: re-use, recycle and reduce, he said. Namibians can join the race to make the world a better place through recycling, re-use and reduction of waste and by avoiding littering, he advised.
He said efforts to spread awareness must be stepped up, as government alone cannot do it.
“Each one of us will have to contribute to the task of protecting our environment. This should become a people’s movement in which regional and local authorities, traditional authorities, local communities, civil society and every one should participate,” he noted.