Universities expound on ASSAR model

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Loide Jason

Ongwediva-The Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project, the University of Cape Town (UCT), University of Namibia (Unam) and Roes Partners on Wednesday presented a transformative scenario-planning workshop in Ongwediva.

This is where the variety of stakeholders will collectively develop three to four relevant and plausible plans about the future of water for productive use in the Omusati Region that is also drought-hit.

The strategic communications officer of the ASSAR project at UCT, Birgit Ottermann, said these scenarios were useful tools for anticipating and adapting to an uncertain, unpredictable future. “What is different about transformative scenario planning is that it enables both adaptive responses to events outside of our control and a transformative response: the possibility that we can change the future, by identifying points for leverage amongst the factors we do have some influence on,” she explained.

Omusati governor, Erginus Endjala officially opened the workshop saying Namibia currently experiences challenges that are compounded by drought and water scarcity across the nation.

“We also find ourselves at a complex intersection of responding to various and complex environmental challenges beyond water scarcity, from, amongst others; poaching, to floods, to drought and to cross-border animal disease control.

“We see very clearly that these challenges present a complex interlinking of the environment with the social, economic and political realities facing our country,” Endjala said. He further noted that addressing climate change required flexible and
inclusive policy development instruments and processes to adequately engage with the multi- faceted challenges posed by natural threats.

“To date, most adaptation efforts have focused on reactive, short-term and site-specific solutions to climate-related vulnerabilities,” he said.

The workshop noted that although important, these responses often failed to address the root causes of vulnerability, or shed light on how to proactively spur larger-scale and longer-term adaptation that has positive effects on socio-economic development.

Endjala said that by using both research and practice to address this information shortfall, the primary aim of the ASSAR project is to produce future-focused and societally relevant knowledge of potential pathways to wellbeing through adaptation.

“Transformative scenarios offer a way for diverse stakeholders to together unblock situations that are polarized or stuck. The facilitated process combines imagination and rigor,” he said.

“It is useful when a diverse set of people face a complex challenge that is vital to them, but that they have not been willing or able to work on together. Perhaps because they disagree on the very nature of the problem,” he stated.

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