WINDHOEK – Although Namibia has shown its commitment to address desertification, there is a decrease in fertility in the crop-growing areas particularly for subsistence farming, especially in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), where over 60 percent of the population resides.
These were the remarks of Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Bernadette Jagger as part of the World Day to Combat Desertification, which was celebrated in Rehoboth on Wednesday.
“This is as a result of unsustainable land practices. In other parts of the country, cattle farming and agriculture farming in a semi-arid area offers us a small-scale version of the challenges facing the wider country when it comes to issues of desertification, land degradation and drought,” she said.
Over the past 30 years, Namibia has been affected by desertification and drought.
Around 70 percent of the Namibian population depends on natural resources base for their livelihoods including food, shelter, fuel and medicinal needs.
In response, and as part of the long-term mitigating measures, she said Namibia with the technical assistance from United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is setting national targets to curb land degradation by the year 2024, through its Third National Action Programme (NAP3).
She said some of these targets include creating local jobs and giving households and communities a chance to live, which will, in turn strengthen the national food bank and the future prospects for sustainability.
“Therefore, in commemorating this day, Namibians should focus on effective ways to tackle land degradation and desertification, we need to recognise that these challenges are real in our societies and they require our collective intervention. Let us bear in mind that solutions are possible, and that the key tools to this aim lie in the hands of the of community,” she encouraged.
Nonetheless, Jagger noted Namibia has shown its commitment to address desertification and land degradation through establishing a Sustainable Land Management Steering Committee, consisting of relevant stakeholders from line ministries and private institutions.
This according to her is to ensure that the Third National Action Programme to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is successfully implemented.
The programme commits Namibia to the achievement of land degradation neutrality.
Namibia has commenced with land degradation neutrality project.
With support from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has participated in a pilot project on land degradation neutrality, which assisted us to identify land degradation neutrality targets and land degradation hotspots, said Jagger.
“We need to value land and ensure that as a country we reverse land degradation through reforestation, adopting sustainable agricultural practices and creating alternative livelihoods such as ecotourism.”
This she says requires that Namibia create an enabling environment that removes technical, political, legal, cultural, social, and environmental barriers.
“As the custodian of the environment, the Environmental Management Act no 7 of 2007, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism outlines certain activities that cannot be conducted without an environmental assessment certificate. Some of these include land use activities such as sand mining and any other agricultural activities that are harmful to our environment.
Any harmful activities on land have a negative impact on it.”
Therefore, she called upon all potential sand miners to approach their offices for compliance, warning if not, then such sand miners risk their operations been stopped.
Similarly, she encouraged business individuals and companies to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act, no 7 of 2007, to ensure that their current and future projects adhere to the provisions of this Act.