19 May 2016 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 19 MAY (NAMPA) Namibia is the first of 10 African countries to develop guidelines for integrating HIV and gender-related issues into environment impact assessments (EIA) for capital projects.
Namibia was one of the 10 countries that took part in a regional pilot project by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to review environmental assessment processes, and to identify the gap areas where social issues can be integrated.
The other countries that participated were Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This is a great milestone for which Namibia must be applauded, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Kiki Gbeho said during the launch of the guidelines here on Thursday.
She noted that capital projects have the potential to contribute to poverty eradication and sustainable development. However, if not managed properly, capital projects can also have negative effects. These projects could fuel HIV transmission among project staff and their adjacent communities.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said an analysis of the Environmental Management Act and its regulations as well as the EIA process in Namibia, revealed that HIV and gender issues can be factored into the process and at many different stages of the assessment.
There is an urgent need to mainstream and internalise health and other diseases and gender-related issues into environmental and social assessments and environment management plans to promote local ownership and uphold a participatory approach by key stakeholders aligned with the Act and its regulations in order to make them Namibia-specific, he said.
Shifeta added that it is therefore prudent to ensure that all EIAs that are undertaken for capital projects have assessed the likely impacts of such project both in terms of HIV/AIDS and gender.
As part of the recommendations of the guidelines, it is amongst others suggested that the ministry should raise awareness for policy-makers and other stakeholders; establish a multi-sectoral EIA committee to support the integration of HIV and gender related issues; as well as engage independent consultants to assist MET to review scoping and environment assessment reports, and environment management plans in order to facilitate speedy approval of environment clearance certificate applications.