EIF, NYS enter landscape restoration agreement

• By Uaueza Kanguatjivi

ENVIRONMENTAL Investment Fund (EIF) Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Libanda has welcomed EIF’s working relation with the National Youth Service (NYS) stating youth make up a big population of the country hence the alliances between the two entities is strategic and important for national growth.

Libanda made the remarks at a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between EIF and NYS in collaboration with the Implementation of the Namibia Integrated Landscape Approach to Enhance Livelihoods and Environmental Governance to Eradicate Poverty (NILALEG) Project.

The MoU is for the project public works programme for landscape restoration.

Libanda said EIF and NYS were working closely together to develop a land equality programme for the country and this was a National priority.

“The project resonates with the mandate of the EIF and we are extremely happy to establish a relationship with NYS. Youth makes up a big population of the country.

Which makes the alliance between the two entities extremely strategic and important for our development. The challenges that we have specifically with this project is that the country has about 40 million hectares of land and bush encroachment. Bush encroachment is a long term process of land degradation and desertification.

“In comparison, in 1958 and 1966 we had more than 10 livestock per hectares. Now we are sitting at 1 livestock per hectare. What this means is we have declined in terms of cattle capacity. Which means the productivity of that land is less than the economic utilisation of that land and is not viable for such a purpose because of bush encroachment. Employment is lost due to low productivity.

Approximately 6000 youth were trained through NYS programmes but only 30 percent received decent employment or have full time jobs. As the executing entity, the NYS under the encroacher bush control programme, will be responsible for piloting an ecologically sustainable methodology for bush control and aftercare on 3 resettlement farm sites of 1000 hectares each in Otjozondjupa as well as construct and equip the pilot plant producing and selling graded charcoal, tar, biochar and support with training, maintenance, marketing and access.

Speaking on behalf of the Environmental Commissioner, Timoteus Mufeti, NILALEG Project manager, Jonas Nghishidi said, “Two years ago we entered into a partnership with NYS to look at opportunities where the youth can be engaged, whereby one of those targets was coal production. We are glad that we are moving and making the strides we should and meeting the targets we set.

“This is our way of seeing how we can resolve some of the challenges faced by the youth. We see this as an opportunity where we can make a meaningful impact. In the long term, we foresee and envision that we as a Ministry, would want this to be a part of the government operations,” Nghishidi added.

The NILALEG project further aims to reverse environmental degradation and maximise sustainable livelihoods based on nature through the integrated management of Namibia’s rural landscapes. NILALEG will provide funding, make disbursements and provide other administrative support to the NYS.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, National Youth Service Commissioner, Dr Felix Musukubili said “This project comes in very handy, besides our mandate to just train in terms of section 4 of our Act allows for NYS to get into commercial activities to support our training programmes, capacitate our training facilities and pay living allowances when we have to deploy the youth to voluntary sites. The purpose for this is meant to capacitate the youth as this project will address our challenges relating to youth unemployment among the youth at the national services.

“However because of our current economic landscape, I think these services are no longer recruiting to increase in volume like they need to,” Musukubili added.