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Namibia builds resilience to climate change

Avatar of inke inke - 13. March 2020 - Economics, Environment

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants and vegetables in water without soil. Photo by: Keith Thompson

Brigitte Weidlich

Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change as heavy rainfalls and floods in Mozambique and Zimbabwe during 2019 among others have shown, affecting thousands of people, who lost their homes, crops and livestock. Other countries in southern Africa, including Namibia endured the other extreme, namely drought over the past years. 

Climate change adaptation and mitigation is very costly and requires mobilisation of funds and a good oversight during implementation.

To date, more than ten projects with a cost of N$1.21 billion (about 65.6 million Euros) have been mobilised from multilateral and bilateral sources in Namibia through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and Namibia’s Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) over the past five years, ending December 2019. Other projects are ongoing.

They were implemented through the Global Environment Facility, the Green Climate Fund and the UN Adaptation Fund between 2014 and 2019 to the overall value of N$2.21 billion (about132 million Euros). These projects cover biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation and combating land degradation for mainly rural communities.

The projects contribute to rural development and livelihood improvement throughout Namibia, during a time when the country has been seriously affected by consecutive and severe droughts.

"This is the future we can expect as the devastating impacts of climate change manifest themselves in this part of the world", says MET Minister Pohamba Shifeta. “The urgency of climate change alone commands that new ways of doing things are promoted, adopted and embraced for the benefit of our current and future generations and the broader environment.”

Projects range from drilling water boreholes equipped with solar pumps, building innovative kraals to protect livestock from predators, constructing water holes for elephants, improved park management, to the establishment of a centre of excellence for climate resilient agriculture.

The projects brought new approaches to agriculture such as hydroponics, community gardens based on conservation agriculture and drip irrigation, fodder production as well as water harvesting.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants and vegetables in water without soil. Nutrients for growth are added to the water. Hydroponics can be applied in small areas, even the yards of homesteads. Animal fodder for livestock can also be grown using this method.

In northern Namibia, some 54 schools and several community gardens had micro-drip irrigation installed, to improve self-sufficiency, benefitting 10,000 people.

Setting up micro drip irrigation at Onamulunga Combined School. Photo by: UNDP

Rural communities in all seven northern regions of Namibia are benefitting from the projects. Subsistence farmers receive training in climate smart agricultural practices, while also learning methods to reverse land degradation like soil erosion and over-grazing.

In southern Namibia, inhabitants of Grünau and Bethanien will soon receive mini-desalination plants to turn the salty/brackish underground water there, into drinking water. 

MET is the national focal point for projects

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is the national focal point to several multilateral environmental agreements, and plays a key role in identifying, designing and coordinating project ideas for funding as well as formulating project proposals. It also monitors the implementation of projects in support of broader Government socio-economic, environmental and poverty eradication objectives.  

Namibia’s own environmental fund

The Environmental Investment Fund (EIV) was established in 2011,under the mandate of being a sustainable source of funding for the development and implementation of environmentally sustainable development projects and programmes in partnership with both public and private sector organisations. These cover natural resource management, green technology and low carbon development, nature based tourism, and capacity building. In 2016, the EIF became one of the first accredited entities to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which financially supports developing countries to adapt to climate change and become climate resilient. The EIF falls under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and plays a major role in mobilising funding and overseeing the implementation of projects.

Germany is a key partner

In terms of bilateral cooperation between Namibia and Germany, five projects are currently underwayor have recently been completed with support from the German government to the value of N$665.6 million (about 36.1 million Euros). Partners are the GIZ (Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit) and the German Development Bank KfW. The GIZ also supports Namibia’s legal and policy frameworks linked to environmental management, climate change and biodiversity conservation.

Solar energy gains importance

France provided funds via Namibia's Environmental Investment Fund, in collaboration with the French Development Agency. This facility enables entrepreneurs to obtain loans for renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and tourism development – like solar energy for communal lodges and to drive solar water pumps. These funds are availed directly to local commercial banks (as a loan), while these banks in turn offer loans to entrepreneurs at concessional rates.

The total funds mobilised to date is N$2.5 billion (about 135.6 million Euros) for all these projects.

Development partners found that desalination technologies are a way to save money for communities. They have been used to supply water to communities, livestock and wildlife in this period of severe drought. Small desalination plants have also been a central component of efforts to mitigate conflict between humans and wildlife.

Improving infrastructure in Namibia’s parks like the construction of office buildings and staff quarters in remote parks including Bwabwata and Dorob is an important component and will continue until 2022.

Namibia also regularly submits its climate adaptation progress reports to the United Nations. 

A predator-proof kraal in the Kunene Region. Photo by: NACSO
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