MEFT committed to combating climate change-Shifeta

By Andre Tino

THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism as the national designated authority to the Green Climate Fund and the focal point on climate change is fully committed towards addressing climate change, but insufficient capacity of our farmers to adopt and build resilience remains a key challenge, remarked Minister of Environment, Tourism and Forestry, Pohamba Shifeta at the official handover ceremony of a climate change project titled ‘Otjimboyo Resilience Horticultural Project’ in the Erongo Region last week.

The project under implementation by Otjimboyo conservancy is aimed at strengthening the adaptive capacity and climate change resilience of communities in the conservancy by improving water and food security of the vulnerable communities.

To date, the project has a functional solar hydroponic system established and has a 76 000-liter dam constructed on site.

The project recorded a bumper harvest early this year and distributed it to senior citizen in the conservancy. It has also successfully retrofitted (converted) diesel pump borehole into a solar powered pump for the village.

The Minister lamented over the observed changes in temperature extremes, the length of the dry season and rainfall intensity which he said not only underscore that the climate in Namibia is tending to become drier, but also that climate variability remains a significant phenomenon of long-term climate trends.

“The Erongo Region is well known for its various mining operations and aquatic resources contributing significantly to the national economy. Conservancy related tourism and the use of biodiversity products continues to support the daily livelihoods of this society.

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All these natural resource-based livelihoods are vulnerable to climate change to some extent. Smallholder farmers have already observed the ongoing natural variability and that there are changes in rainfall patterns, and the last few years have been marked by extreme weather conditions,” he said.

Shifeta pointed out that climate change poses an acute challenge to livelihoods that are directly dependent on subsistence agriculture and livestock husbandry.

“Natural resources are the backbone of the Namibian economy. Our economy rests on four pillars: mining, agriculture, fishery and tourism. All of these are directly linked to sustainable land use applications. However, for our economy to blossom, we have to invest in small and medium scale producers and mobilise them to stop producing for their immediate family needs alone but make to adopt a business-like attitude to production, and view their activities as commercial ones that can substantially increase their earnings and improve their livelihoods. If this can be achieved, we shall have begun to seriously address the problem of hunger, malnutrition, poverty and food shortages in general,” he said.

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Speaking at the handover ceremony, Otjimboyo Conservacy Chairperson, Theofelius Naruseb highlighted the history of the conservancy and indicated that the conservancy resilience horticultural project was set up to address food security around its community to avoid depending on handouts from government and also ensuring water softening that will benefit community.

“Since this is a community project, community members must benefit and I am proud to say that we have shared fresh produce from the garden with the elderly as a way of ensuring that our members derive from the benefits of their project.

Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Libanda said the fund would further engage its developmental partners to make sure such projects are expanded to ensure food securities in communities they are established in.

“We are extremely proud of the work that we are seeing here today and the project’s commitment of success will go a long way in serving as an example to other,” Libanda said.