The World Bank (WB) has to date availed two grants totalling US$6, 8 million (Approximately N$68m) to government for the Coast Conservation and Management (NACOMA) project aimed at promoting sustainable economic development.
This development is a broader part of the multilateral lender’s country partnership strategy that provides financing to both private and public sectors to support the goals of National Development Plan 4 (NDP4) with the government expected to take on the role of implementation.
The development objective of the additional financing for NACOMA is to support the beneficiary to protect, use sustainably and mainstream biodiversity of the Namibian coast as well as support activities that scale up a project’s impact and development effectiveness of a well-performing project.
World Bank Senior Operations Officer for Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, Nonhlanhla Zindela, told The Villager that the grants are helping NACOMA to achieve positive results, adding that promoting environmentally sustainable economic development is an important dimension of the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Strategy.
“Increasing economic development and human activities along Namibia’s coast and in the marine environment could lead to unprecedented mining extraction and migration, bringing an increase in industrial coastal and marine pollution, unsustainable agricultural practices, a worsening of water regimes for coastal wetlands, and other land and water degradation,” she said.
Although the Namibian coastal area is not under threat from low populations subsisting due to the harsh desert terrain, it is the commercial activities that have a negative cumulative impact on the coastal environment and its steady dilapidation.
These range from an expanding extractive industry in the fields of oil and gas exploration including off-shore mining activities, a growing fishing industry with growing aquaculture and a nature-based tourism industry.
Threats to the coastal area’s ecosystem include the fishing industry’s introduction of invasive alien species through mariculture development, intensive water exploitation for mining activities and consumption, as well as land repossession for urban and industrial development such as salt works.
The World Bank grants have assisted the NACOMA Project to achieve a strong platform for governance of the broader coastal land and seascape, and for development of the National Policy on Coastal Management.
This also includes the proclamation of the Namibian Islands Marine Protected Area and Dorob National Park, the establishment of a mega park dubbed the Namib Skeleton Coast National Park, which is the sixth largest terrestrial park in the world and the largest in Africa.
However, Zindela said the World Bank Group offers many more services to Namibia which it can use to achieve the country’s development goals but these have not been fully utilised.
“Many World Bank member governments are using cost-sharing arrangements to expand technical cooperation programs. Namibia has not yet taken advantage of such arrangements,” said Zindela.
The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management project (NACOMA) is tasked with paving the way for an Integrated Coastal Zone Management System for Namibia’s coast.
Environment and Tourism Minister, Uahekua Herunga, however said that the tourism sector in particular was not affecting the coastal or any other areas in any negative.
“Rather, Environmental Impact Assessments (with regard to mining projects in coastal areas) are always carried out before the implementation of any project, and the assessment is issued after agreement by the tourism ministry,” he said.
Official figures indicate that the coast is about 1 500 km long and classified as hyper arid desert.
Around 1, 6 million birds belonging to 73 species regularly occur along the Namibian Coast and the coastline from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay has up to 770 birds per km of beach, with 25 species of cetaceans and 493 species of fish occurring off Namibian waters.