Land Degradation cripples Nam economy

By Kaula Nhongo
September 2012
Other Articles
The Namibian economy will need to reserve about N$700m annually to combat the effects of ravaging land degradation, which has become rife through human activities including farming, quarrying and mining; experts concur.

Land Degradation (LD) now threatens future agricultural output and reduces potential productive Namibian land, which will in the end push the Government to import food.

According to a Kenyan environmentalist, Dr Harrison Kojwang, Namibia’s economy needs huge investments in combating environmental hazards as it relies heavily on natural resources. Dr Kojwang made a presentation on this issue at a recent gathering in the capital upon an invite by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Country Pilot Partnership (CPP).

“For affected ministries to be able to control LD, they must practice cross-sector collaboration where ministries would have to collaborate and work together.

“If the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Ministry of Agriculture created a planning framework for them to have cross-sector collaboration and made it a culture in this country, then the incentive would be access to funds when they come together,” he says.

Kojwang further notes that these issues not only call for the development of mechanisms but also the appropriate national authority to supervise their implementation.

He adds that LD is an opportunity to galvanise concerted action among Government agencies and could enable a more efficient use of scarce resources for the national good.

MET minister, Neitumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah says that the LD issue is not the responsibility of the one ministry alone but that of the entire nation. She thus urges that should people not respond positively within the next 10 years, the estimated figure of N$700m lost due to land degradation could triple because in 1994, it was N$200m.

Kojwang’s arguments add weight to the long-standing debate that the country has been sitting on shaky environmental laws; a move that has seen a flood of foreign mining firms into Namibia.

CCP points out overgrazing, mining and drought as the major causes of LD in the country.

In order to control LD, certain policies have long been put in place by the Government for the responsible ministries to try and control it but to date, nothing has materialised.

For the country to achieve the Vision 2030 goals of food security and health, LD has to be controlled, Kojwang says.

The MET is now involved in many projects to create awareness within the community of the dangers of LD and how to control it.

“We implemented the Palt Country Programme (PCP) to see how best we can have a clear land management programme. Farmers have been encouraged to test different seeds in order to see which ones give better yields. Communities have also been encouraged to practise de-bushing to bring the value of the land back and Agribank has been giving loans to the communities to de-bush,” she says.

The LD issue comes at a time when Namibia, like the rest of the world, is battling climate change, which is considered to be one of the most serious environmental threats.

Studies show that the arid environment, recurrent drought and desertification have contributed to make Namibia one of the most vulnerable countries to the effect of global climate change, so it the country has to adapt if it is to survive.

A review of the existing policies was recently carried out and according to Nandi-Ndaitwa, it was discovered that some of the policies in place go against one another within the different ministries (e.g. Agriculture, Environment, Water and Forestry).

To address the land degradation issue comprehensively, CCP and its partners have come up with an incentive-based ap

To control overgrazing, suggestions of moving livestock from place to place have been presented but it has been discovered that this practice goes against different cultures, so it would be difficult to implement.

“Communities have been encouraged to stop overstocking, because too many livestock leads to overgrazing but it is never easy to convince people not to keep many livestock. Auctioning markets were put in place for those with many livestock to auction off some so that they are left with just enough,” Nandi-Ndaitwa says.

However, the Government ministries involved in the curbing of LD have managed to implement drip irrigation to help reduce it and increase crop yields. According to studies, drip irrigation will allow for targeted water applications where runoff, leaching and welting of non-targeted areas would be avoided or completely eliminated.

It has also been suggested that for cross-sector collaboration to work, planners from the different ministries and those from the National Planning Commission (NPC) must plan the way forward together. PF