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Nam lacks scientists, researchers

by Jemima Beukes


The Polytechnic of Namibia recently embarked on an outreach programme to encourage high school graduates to take up training in enviromental sciences to help the country come up with modalities that combat the effects of global warming.
Namibia still lacks understanding of the implications of climate change and the need to educate more scientists who can research and assess issues relating to climate changes in Namibia, Dean of School of Natural Resources and Tourism at the Polytechinic of Namibia, Lameck Mwewa, revealed last week.
“Solutions are ussually designed for Namibians by people from outside and are often not appropriate. Namibians must ideally be the ones to design solutions to take care of their environment since they are the ones that best understand it and will be in a position to design appropriate solutions,” he said.
Mwewa was speaking on the sideline of  the ongoing 10-day workshop hosted by the institution to discuss issues pertaining to the implications of global warming on the environment.
According to Mwewe, the fact that Africa is prone to pandemics and environmental disasters is a full reflection of a lack of suitably native-trained scientific experts and that natives are familiar with the risks and can anticipate impeding disasters.
“There is a need to raise awareness. Namibia has a very sensitive environment and it must be clearly understood. We wish to attract the upcoming generations who will be the future decision makers. Through this, they will become more aware of the implications of global warming. Unfortunately, priorities are set by policy makers and Earth Science is not one of those priorities.
“Africa must really begin to focus on Earth Science as it covers a wide spectrum of issues,” said Mwewa.
The Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1990 to lay down the foundation for debate for both developed and developing countries to combat global warming is just one of the steps taken to curb climate change.
However, The United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Durban last year managed to secure legislation on climate change as the Kyoto Protocol was seen as a “toothless dog”, because of its non-binding nature.
This included the adoption of a Green Climate Fund; a fund, which will distribute  US$100b per year to help poor countries adapt to weather changes since developed countries are mainly responsible for climate change.
In the mean time, countries like Namibia are forced to come up with their own policies to deter the effects climate change has and is yet to have on its environment and inhabitants.
In a separate interview,Theo Nghitila, Director of Resource Management in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, agrees saying, “Namibia cannot afford to rely on external sources anymore and need to build her own local capacity, especially in relevant fields such as the environment sector where there is a need for key natural scientists who can research and monitor.”
He also says that there is a gap in the environmental sector in particular and this gap, he adds, will be filled with the funds from the Global Climate Fund, which is not yet active.
“The fund will be utilised for the building and strengthening of capacity in a bid to fight climate change. This will include institutional and resource capacity as well as the improvement of technology and infrastructure,” Nghitila said.
Furthermore, Toivo Mvula, Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Education, highlighted that a database for scientists and researchers is yet to be implemented.
According to Mvula, the Directorate of Research and Science and Technology in the MoE has kicked off a survey to determine the need for scientists in the country.