Govt will ensure solutions to desertification, drought: Herunga

18 Jun 2013 13:00
WINDHOEK, 18 JUN (NAMPA) - Government will do its best to ensure that solutions to issues of desertification, land degradation and drought yield fast and provide positive results for local communities.
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga made this vow during the World Day to Combat Desertification event held at Ovitoto in the Otjozondjupa Region on Monday.
?The Ministries of Environment and Tourism, and Agriculture, Water and Forestry have been working particularly hard to help our communities and farmers to cope with the challenges posed by climatic variability and the harsh environment of this country. We are convinced that this must be the way forward for us to protect ourselves from the scourge of desertification, land degradation and drought,? he noted.
Namibia?s Third National Action Programme aimed at implementing the provisions of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is currently under development and will build on the successes and challenges experienced through the Country Pilot Partner (CPP) Programme.
Some noteworthy achievements from the programme amongst others include the establishment of new and innovative approaches to agriculture such as conservation farming, as well as community-driven approaches to sustainable land management and community-based rangeland management practices. Communities have also been supported to develop enterprises from the sustainable management of natural resources and value-addition including guinea fowl rearing, the manufacturing of peanut butter from locally grown nuts, bee-keeping, horticulture production and aquaculture. More than US dollars 4 million (about N.dollars 40 million) was invested in such projects through the CPP Programme, according to Herunga.
In spite of all these areas of progress, the minister raised the concern that Government is very much aware of the challenges the country faces. Namibia is experiencing the worst drought in the last 30 years, which has caused huge livestock losses and human suffering.
While Namibia is preparing to host the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification scheduled for 16 to 27 September 2013, Herunga noted that Namibia is committed and has achieved much with regards to the combating of desertification. The conference will bring more than 3 000 experts and high level figures from around the world that will discuss and come up with decisions, actions and solutions to issues of desertification, land degradation and drought.
?I reassure you that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and partner ministries in close and full co-operation with our partners and communities, are committed to finding lasting solutions to this complex challenge. The long-term sustainable management of our lands will be the key to process and we look forward to implementing new solutions that will emanate from COP 11 in September this year,? he added.
Held under the theme ?Don?t let our future dry up?, the annual event was held in the Ovitoto communal area. The conservancy is dominated by cattle farming in a semi-arid area, which is relatively small considering that there are around 21 000 heads of cattle, which is around 15 000 units above stocking rate recommendations.
As a result, the area suffers from severe overgrazing and is therefore a perfect study site for land degradation and desertification questions.