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Climate projects should not become white elephants – Shifeta

Minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta says community projects aimed at empowering rural communities to be resilient against the effects of climate change should not become white elephants once government funding stops.

“The onus is on the recipients, together with regional leadership, to ensure that these initiatives do not become white elephants. Let us embrace what the government has done to ensure that our respective projects yield the desired results and enhance returns on the investments,” he says.

Shifeta said this at the recent handover of grants to 43 community-based projects by the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) through its project, titled ‘Building Resilience of Communities Across Eight Targeted Landscapes Threatened under Climate Change Through an Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Approach’.

A total amount of N$88,3 million was handed over to the community projects, covering more than 200 000 square kilometres of land, and home to about 216 000 people.

This is about 7,5% of Namibia’s total population.

Shifeta said through this funding, about 3 500 climate-resilient jobs will be created in rural areas across Namibia.

He said the ‘Ecosystem-Based Adaptation’ project is a sister project of the ‘Empower to Adapt’ project and equally contributed to the national agenda of addressing climate change through awarding a total of 31 grants worth N$112 million.

Shifeta said his ministry is committed to providing unwavering support to all environmental initiatives and policies that contribute to “our shared vision of a sustainable world which Namibia is part of”.

The minister said while Namibia is rich in biodiversity, this is also threatened by the negative impacts of climate change.

“Our landscapes, from the breathtaking deserts to the vibrant savannahs, are not only sources of natural beauty, but also crucial to the well-being and livelihoods of our communities.

“However, climate change poses significant impacts and threats to ecosystem-based goods and services.

“Addressing these impacts and threats requires concerted efforts in climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Shifeta said.

Due to its arid and semi-arid environment and its overdependent on rain-fed agriculture, Namibia is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

Speaking at the same occasion, minister of finance and public enterprises Iipumbu Shiimi said the intensification of climate change has amplified challenges, slowing down the economic outlook and hindering the path to sustainable development.

He said in terms of the livestock sector, it is possible that there may be an income decline of approximately 1% per annum in the next 70 years, which would result in production and growth losses of the country’s net income.

One of the beneficiary community projects was the Orupapa conservancy in the Kunene region, which is one of the regions currently hardest hit by drought.

The conservancy was awarded N$3,5 million and is implementing climate-smart solar water infrastructure to improve adaptive capacity through livelihood diversification and income-generating projects for communities at six villages.

The conservancy consists of 255 households.