Sustainable use of natural resources gets a boost

 

 

Sustainable use of natural resources gets a boost

 

Investing in projects that maintains the natural and environmental resources of the country is a noble undertaking. The Namibian Government is on the right path and the creation of the Environmental Investment Fund is testimony to that. We spoke to the Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Libanda, who shares with us insights about EIF.

 

Q: Who is the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia and what is the relationship with MET?

 

A: An Act of Parliament of 2001 (No. 13 of 2001) created the Environmental Investment Fund to serve as a statutory body and juristic person outside the public service. Classified as a state-owned enterprise, the need for such a company was initially captured in Namibia’s Green Plan of 1992; which outlined the need to create an financial institution that would channel funding in support of conservation activities and environmental sustainable activities; which are the core mandates of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

 

Fully operational since February 2012, the EIF has an independent Board of Directors comprising of 5 members that represent the government, private sector and community–based organisations; dulyappointed by the Minister of Environment and Tourism as stipulated by the Act.

 

The EIF is not just a fund for financing “conservation activities”. It pursues a broader investment portfolio by providing economic opportunities and a stake in the sustainable use of natural resources to the poorest sectors of society. We also look to fill the funding gap that currently hinders large coprorate companies from transitioning their operations to greener and more eco-friendly practices.

 

Q: What are EIF’s mission and objectives?

 

A: According to its founding Act, the missionof the EIF is to promote the sustainable economic development of Namibia by investing in and promoting activities and project that maintains the natural and environmental resources of the country.

 

The objectives are:

To mobilise funding for the maintenance of an endowment fund that will generate income in perpetuity and;

To allocate this income to activities and projects which promote:

The sustainable use and management of environmental and natural resources;

The maintenance of the natural resource base and ecological processes;

The maintenance of biological diversity and ecosystems for the benefit of all Namibians; and

Economic improvements in the use of natural resources for sustainable rural and urban development.

 

Q: How important is EIF in terms of national economic activities such as NDP4, promotion of Conservation Agriculture, bridging the gap between rural and urban area?

 

A:Having aligned our objectives to national development needs, we are confident that the EIF is well positioned to contribute significantly to the goals carried forth in the country’s National Development Plan 4 and ultimately to the promise embedded in itsfar-reaching Vision 2030. Sustainable utilisation of resources has the potential to contribute towards the economic development of Namibia, creating much-needed jobs in the labour intensive agribusiness sector. 

 

It has also been widely highlighted that rural economic development is important in offsetting the negative environmental impacts experienced in urban areas as a result of rural-urban migration. To demonstrate EIF’s commitment to curbing this trend, we have during our first year of operations availed financing for projects in conservation and sustainable agriculture, targeted at rural area communities.

 

Q: What would you say are the greatest challenges Namibia is facing in terms of environmental issues?

 

A: We currently face the same environmental, economic and social challenges emanating from the impacts of climate change as the rest of southern Africa. These challenges are:

Water scarcity; which result from increased drought occurrence and high evaporation and transpiration.

Land degradation; resulting in low agricultural productivity.

Food insecurity; leading to over exploitation of natural resources.

Environmental health challenges such as waste management, water pollution and bush encroachment.

 

To overcome these challenges, substantial investments are needed such as technologies to reduce, recyle and reuse, waterpurification and application of best practices in savanna and desert ecosystems management; and in alternative sources of energy generation; and training.

 

Q: You have provision for grants aimed at environmental sustainable projects can you tell us more how the process work?

 

A:Grant financing is one of the EIF financing mechanism and is the first product that we have launched during the first year of operation.

 

With this financing scheme, individuals, community based organisations, private sector, civil society, training and tertiary institutions are eligible to apply for grant financing for environmental projects and activities.  The EIF receives applications for this throughout the year. The applicants are encouraged to fill out an application form indicating the focus area of the project, activities for  implementation, a detailed budget and highlighting environmental and socioeconomic benefits. The application form can be accessed by visiting our office or the website; www.eifnamibia.com.

 

There are two types of grants, seed grants and normal grants. Seed grant are seen as catalysts that stimulate private investment to activities that promote future sustainability or as preparatory funds leading up to the formulation of a full scale proposal; and are granted for an amount of up to N$ 10 000.00. However, the normal grant is intended for full project implementation and ranges from N$ 10 000.00 to N$ 350 000.00. 

 

Q: What type of project do you focus on?

 

A:We focus on activities and projects that promote the wise utilisation of natural resources and innovation in the area of environmental management to contribute to economic development and poverty alleviation. For example, activities such as natural resource management, sustainable farming practices or technologies, wise and responsible utilisation and value addition of natural resources and protection of our fragile environment.

 

A: Can you name one agricultural project that you are currently supporting and highlight some related achievements?

 

A: We have thus far funded the Caprivi Chilli Farmer’s Association and the Uibasen Community garden project at Twyfelfontein. We have also funded activities for the Olushaandja Horticulture project in the central north; a project aimed at value addition through the production, packaging and marketing of agricultural produce.

 

Our involvement with the latter has particularly produced remarkable socioeconomic impacts with a total of more than 650 beneficiaries including 394 direct jobs of which more than 200 are women. While specifically tageting the maintenance of food security, progress has been observed with targeted training and soil analyses forming an integral part of the project activities.

 

Q: How do you go about informing the public about EIF?

 

A:While we are a relatively new institution, we have benefited from having a large network of stakeholders through which we intend to collaborate and share information and best lessons with. Going into our second year of operations we intend on fostering stronger relationships with the Regional Councils and avail a wider range of services on our website, www.eifnamibia.com.

 

We have thus far shared a lot of information on existing platforms such as the annual Trade Fairs and Expos and will be looking to engage the public at upcoming business expos and tradeshows across the country.

 

Q: What does the future look like for EIF?

 

A:It has been showcased that some of the world’s most flourishing businesses are built around a great idea and we firmly believe that the EIF is a great idea. There is also emerging evidence that an economy that integratesenvironmental consideration has the potential to sustain its activities.

 

In my view, the Fund is one of the most important institutions to drive sustainable economic growth in Namibia. We can see the Fund going from strength to strength; not only as a dependable partner with a passion for measurable impacts; but also as an innovative mechanism to make the environment everybody’s business. The progress has been amazing considering we have only been in operation for a short while.

 

Q: Is there any information you will like the public to know?

 

A:Application for the EIF grants for projects such as the ones mentioned can now be done throughout the year, which I believe will give people more freedom and time to work on formulating their concept notes and proposals.

 

The Fund will also soon be launching more of its financing products such as the soft-Loans with a nationwide roadshow with the intetniton of introducing the product and educating potential applicants on the procedures and areas of funding.

 

To keep up with the latest developments, the public is encouraged to pose questions on our social network platforms like Facebook, Twitter and interact with us on new industry developments on LinkedIn as well as our website,www.eifnamibia.com.

 

Contact details:

 

Environmental investment Fund of Namibia

Capital Centre, 2nd Floor, Levinson Arcade, Independence Avenue,

Phone: +264 61 284 2701

Fax: +264 61 240 339

Email:info@eifnamibia.com

Postal Address: P.O Box 28157, Auas Valley,Windhoek. PF