Windhoek-Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has expressed great concern that Namibia’s beautiful environment is being increasingly threatened by a number of development initiatives that are not properly planned.
Speaking at the workshop this week for parliamentarians that interrogated the Environmental Management Act, Nandi-Ndaitwah said some development initiatives are conducted carelessly and show no respect for the importance of the environment. She singled out illegal sand mining, quarrying for construction material and waste management.
The workshop, organized by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, aimed at sensitizing parliamentarians on the importance of the Act. She said the Environmental Management Act, No. 7 of 2007, was passed by parliament to regulate or put the brakes on such destructive practices.
According to her, the damage caused to the environment is now so serious that it is likely to have a great impact on the lives of future generations.
Equally, she said, the disregard of Namibia’s landscape endangers people’s lives particularly in rural areas where people are allowed to settle in areas that naturally cannot be inhabited, such as water runways and flood-prone areas.
She said there is a need to step up the robustness of inspections under the Environmental Management Act, adding that she wants the environmental ministry to improve further on this aspect to ensure the environment is respected.
She urged Namibians to embrace the purpose of the Act and work together with the environment ministry to ensure its implementation, which will enable everyone to save the environment, and lives and properties.
Regarding waste management, she called for collaboration to be strengthened between the environment ministry and local authorities and municipalities to tackle the problem of littering, which is tarnishing the reputation of a number of towns and Namibia at large.
“Today our country is not as clean as it should be. Environmental pollution, through littering of waste, is becoming a serious problem, which is compromising the quality of life of our citizens as well as the health of our ecosystems.”
She added that it may even threaten the tourism industry if not urgently addressed, saying modern tourism prefers a clean country because cleanliness is associated with human health and safety.
According to her, there is an urgent need to educate people because pollution of the environment can, among others, threaten the quality of limited water resources, agricultural soil and even fresh air.
“It is my view that awareness of the importance of our environment is inadequate among decision-makers and the general public,” she noted.
Therefore, she called on the ministry to undertake nationwide environmental awareness campaigns on a range of environmental issues so that it encourages the behavioural change the government wants to see from people.
She said issues such as renewable energy, clean transportation, water-saving technologies and climate-smart agriculture are especially important to the nation, particularly as Namibia begins to plan for the 5th National Development Plan and the national level application of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said the Act serves as a guide for everyone to pursue the type of economic growth that will be sustainable and eradicate poverty.