16 Sep 2022
Climate change is real and is not only noticeable in Africa. Europe has also experienced it in recent months, with very low rainfalls, rivers drying up and an increase in forest fires.
That said, the impact of changing weather patterns, such as droughts, is even more severe in African countries like Namibia, especially in rural areas. Projects to adapt and increase resilience help mitigate the situation but are costly.
Women in rural communities are particularly affected by climate change and several successes have been recorded with relevant programmers in those areas.
Some of the impacts of global warming at 1.5 degree Celsius will, according the intergovernmental panel on climate change, impact on Namibia:
a. the annual rainfall will continue to reduce up to 4 percent;
b. evaporation rate will increase by 10 percent every year, affecting dams particularly;
c. Cereal and livestock production will reduce annually by 10 percent;
d. The number of hot days will increase by 21 days per annum.
These challenges offer opportunities for smart solutions especially in agriculture and green energy solutions.
In order to channel programmes and funding for the adaption to climate change, the Namibian government has established the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) under the umbrella of the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry (MEFT) in 2012.
The EIF has successfully attracted and mobilised an overall investment of more than N$1,7 billion (about 100 million Euros) for projects since then.
It was accredited by the Global Climate Fund (GCF) in 2016, as a
direct access entity for country level programme delivery and plays a significant role with regards to the coordination and supervision of climate resilience projects.
“I am proud to say that ten years after its establishment, the EIF is today one of the fastest- growing green and climate financing institutions in Africa,” says MEFT Minister Pohamba Shifeta.
Projects include climate-resilient development through sound range-
land management, the rehabilitation of boreholes, revival of community gardens in the South and in remote places like Franzfontein, Warmquelle and Sesfontein in the Kunene Region, supply and installation of drip irrigation in these gardens to reduce evaporation, the provision
of fuel-efficient stoves to reduce the use of firewood and the distribution of drought resilient seeds at
Eben Swanepoel, who is one of the EIF beneficiaries at Warmquelle grows vegetables under the name “Kunene Fresh Produce”. Together with three other young people he grows vegetables and sells the surplus to communities in the area. They also started supplying tourism lodges in the area.
The EIF’s Namibia Integrated Landscape Approach for Enhancing Livelihoods and Environmental Governance to Eradicate Poverty (Nilaleg) provides support to eliminate natural habitat destruction, stop biodiversity loss The Nilaleg project is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) through the UN Development Programme (UNDP) with some N$168 million (about 10 million Euros). The project aims to reverse environmental degradation and maximise sustainable livelihoods based on nature through the integrated management of Namibia’s rural landscapes
In September, the first ever conference about women and climate change in Namibia took place in Windhoek. Participants noted that rural women often were not part of decision-making processes in their areas due to the fact that traditionally it is the role of men.
“We need to ensure that women are also represented in village committees and other levels so that their voices are heard,” one delegate said.
Access to land is also a challenge for women to grow crops and to rear cattle and goats as that is still being regarded as a man’s job.
Climate adaptation projects have seen a shift towards increased support for women in communal areas. Funding is made available so that they can construct basic chicken coops and are given chicks to raise them so that nutrition for their families is improved by consuming eggs and meat from slaughtered chicken.
Since chicken multiply fast, the women can earn cash income by selling eggs and either live hens or their meat.
Another success is the goat project, which is a tremendous support especially for rural households headed by women.
In November 2020, the project, through the ministry, handed over 425 goats to 20 vulnerable farmers in the drought-stricken Kunene Region, of which 12 were women. The Ministry’s procurement of the goats came to about N$1 million (about 58,000 Euros)
Each farmer received 20 female goats and one billy goat. According to the agreement with them, all beneficiaries have to provide ten goats from the offspring back to the project after 18 months so that other rural farmers can benefit. Another ten goats must be provided three years after the donation.
The goats provide milk, meat and hides to the beneficiaries. Once the herd grows in numbers, animals can be sold for cash income.
One of the beneficiaries, a 35 year-old single mother of seven, Nguekuru Tjondu, from Okovingava village near Opuwo said the goats greatly improved her living conditions.
Over time some 2,000 goats will be distributed to further vulnerable farmers in the Kunene Region.
While Namibia’s north-western areas attract tourists with amazing landscapes and free roaming rhinos, lions and elephants, even the wildlife suffered under the severe drought in the past six years.
The EIF and the mobile communications provider MTC recently signed an agreement for an early weather warning system for the Kunene Region, a first in Namibia.
In partnership with MTC, four automated weather stations have been procured at a cost of N$800,000 (About 55,000 Euros). They will be installed at Warmquelle, Franzfontein, Kamanjab and Bergsig near Palmwag.
Weather warnings will be sent to mobile phones of farmers, among others. Manual and automated rain gauges will be added. These stations will expand the meteorological services station-network and improve the precision of weather forecasts.
While building resilience to climate change is an expensive undertaking and must continue for many decades, it provides opportunities for thinking out of the box and to improve the livelihoods of communities in rural areas.
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