Namibia is rapidly losing its historical title of being the cleanest country in Africa due to the increasing amount of waste accumulating along the national roads, in towns and villages the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta said.
Shifeta stressed that increasing amount of litter does not only have an environmental effect, but also gives a bad impression to tourists who visit the country.
The world is moving away from landfill sites and is implementing the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. However, Shifeta said, Namibia still does not actively do recycling and recovery of waste outside Windhoek.
“I am deeply concerned about the infrastructure and capacity of our local authorities to manage waste in an environmentally sound manner. The majority of our local authorities are ill-equipped to effectively handle the increasing volumes and types of waste we are generating on a daily basis,” the environment minister said.
“This behaviour and habit commences at the basic level, sourcing and separating waste at for example household or the primary location were the waste is being generated,” he added in reflection of the World Environment Day, in Parliament last week.
Shifeta noted that his ministry is committed to working with local authorities to urgently address these challenges and to stimulate adequate investment infrastructure and capacity to make waste management possible.
“The uncontrollable mining of sand for the use in construction and in the development of the road network is worrisome. Huge areas of the country are scarred by open burrow pits and holes left behind after the mining of sand, which is typically done without the rehabilitation and consideration of the impacts on the ecosystem and the dangers this pits pose for human and animal lives,” he lamented.
Broad aspects of the environment are also captured in the Environmental Management Act of 2007, which covers issues such as community management of natural resources, recycling, waste management and pollution control as well as the use of Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Environmental Assessments to guide development.
“The full and effective implementation of this Act, particularly its provisions on waste management and regulating development, is a top priority of Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Thus, environmental aspects need to be internalized in our development planning process. I would once again remind all those who intend or already undertake listed activities in EMA to strictly observe the law and obtain the Environmental clearance certificate,” Shifeta highlighted.
At least 16% of the population is in need of urgent food support, however there is a decline in crop yields, increasing livestock mortalities and reduced availability of water in both rural and urban areas. This poses a serious risk to national development objectives.
“Worryingly, this is a symbol of things to come and we need to be better prepared to deal with this scenario. The sustainable management of crops and rangelands, the diversification of livelihoods at the local level and the improvement of our Drought Early Warning Systems are some important interventions we need to strengthen so that our preparedness is improved,” Shifeta said.
In comparison to most other countries, Namibia’s population of high value and endangered species are still in a healthy state, and the MET remains committed to preserving this and eradicating poaching and the illegal trade of wildlife. The legal hunting and sustainable utilization of wildlife is a key part of Namibia’s conservation strategy and broader economy and a lifeline for communities as well as a sector with huge potential for future expansion. It is also fully in line with Article 95 (L) of the Constitution as well as the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
It is estimated that only around 50% of the Namibian people have access to electricity, while the SADC region are also faced with critical challenges of electricity supply.
Shifeta stressed that there is a pressing need to upscale the generation of renewable energy and to capitalize on opportunities through the Green Climate Fund and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative amongst others.
The Ministry is to host a coordinating an African Drought Conference from 15-19th August this year as part of efforts to enhance our resilience to drought events. Shifeta emphasized that elephants and rhinos are icons of Africa and the opportunity to view them in their natural habitats is one of the leading tourism drawcards offered by the continent.
“At the international level, environmental issues are assuming ever-greater importance and taking centre stage, be it in the Africa’s social or economic landscapes. This is clear if we look at Africa’s long-term development framework of Agenda 2063 and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we move towards launching the SDGs nationally tomorrow, it is important to recognize that at least 8 of the 17 SDGs relate to environmental issues. This compares to just one of the recently-ended Millennium Development Goals, which referred to environmental sustainability,” Shifeta said.