21 Sep 2013 04:00
WINDHOEK, 21 SEP (NAMPA) Namibia can benefit immensely from joining Landcare International, a community-based and grassroots-led approach to sustainable land management (SLM).
Technical Project Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Emily Mutota made the proposal during a side event of the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underway here.
Namibia could become part of an existing and active global movement that focuses entirely towards SLM practices. The opportunities are endless, and Namibia can learn from and share with other countries, she said.
Landcare International is a not-for-profit organisation registered with the Australian Government as an incorporated organisation. The idea to make Landcare International global was born in 1995, based on the inspiration of the Victorian-based Potter Farmland Plan.
Mutota said Namibia is not officially part of Landcare International yet, although the idea of membership was introduced at several occasions to the Namibian Government and civil society organisations since 2009.
Apart from Australia, countries with established Landcare activities are in Europe and the Americas, as well as South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
According to Mutota, adopting new land-care approaches will position Namibia to become a champion in land-care practices.
At the same occasion, Landcare International Chairperson, Dr Dennis Garrity, who is also UNCCD Drylands' Ambassador, said the time has come for countries to jump and address land degradation as it affects everybody globally.
Among the many benefits offered by the movement, Garrity said, is a supportive global network which draws together Landcare International initiatives to learn from each other through information exchange; cross-visits and people exchanges, peer-to-peer learning, regular conferences and training workshops.
It also encourages national land-care initiatives; facilitates access to and extension of research and development and relevant science and technology innovations; and mobilise financial resources to facilitate strategic investments in land care.
However, Co-Chairperson of the African Landcare Network in South Africa, Lydia Bosoga said the movement is also faced with many challenges.
She said a common limitation of Landcare globally is the adaptability of national governments to respond to grassroots initiatives at a scale which would make meaningful improvements in livelihoods and natural resource management simultaneously.
Additionally, there are no scaling-up efforts of Landcare globally.
Bosoga said unlike globally-sponsored projects, Landcare has grown through the efforts of national partners who have used either their own internal resources or received limited external support.
Suggestions from the floor were that it is a very good concept, and Namibia needs a bottom-up approach to introduce Landcare here.
Other comments were that Landcare is all about partnership, and communities should showcase the values of the project to convince governments; while it is also a process of trust-building between all the stakeholders.