Core area “Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth” Protecting the natural environment and using it sustainably

Namibia’s natural resources are vital to the lives of its population and form the basis of the country’s economic development, for example through agriculture, mining and tourism. The fair and sustainable use of natural resources is a core goal of Namibia’s strategy for alleviating poverty, and a key requirement for maintaining social peace.

Namibia is one of the most arid countries south of the Sahara. The country’s unique ecosystem, and with it people’s livelihoods, are threatened by the effects of climate change. Much of the soil in Namibia is at risk of erosion. Water in general is scarce and the country’s water resources are not managed sustainably. Large stretches of land are under threat of desertification and bush encroachment.

The severe droughts that took place between 2017 and 2020, together with the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted how vulnerable Namibia’s agricultural and food sector is in the face of crises. The majority of the population cannot afford nutritious, healthy food.

Fair access to limited resources and farmland

Germany is supporting Namibia’s efforts to conserve its natural resources, to use them sustainably and to enable fair access for all. In addition, water supply and wastewater management is being enhanced in both rural and urban areas. The support that is being provided in the areas of water and biodiversity is also directly contributing to Namibia’s efforts to adapt to climate change and helping to increase the population’s resilience.

Competition for already scarce resources is further exacerbated by a highly inequitable distribution of land ownership. Most of the country’s commercial farmland is still owned by white farmers operating on a large scale. In response, the government has launched a programme to redistribute a total of 15 million hectares of land to socially disadvantaged black citizens.

Germany is promoting municipal land reforms in order to secure land titles and land use rights. More than 900,000 people are benefiting from the mapping and registration of their plots of land.

In addition, around 10,000 small farmers are receiving support to expand the infrastructure on their farms. In 2020, for example, work began to drill and overhaul 40 public water points in the north-east of the country.

Nurturing national parks

Ranger at Buffalo Park Station in Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Ranger at Buffalo Park Station in Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Ranger at Buffalo Park Station in Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Over 40 per cent of Namibia’s land is protected in the form of national parks, communal conservancies, community forests or private nature reserves.

The BMZ is supporting the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism in its efforts to improve the management of the country’s national parks. One goal is to protect and maintain the biological diversity of plants and animals; another is to promote the careful and responsible use of natural resources for the purpose of tourism, with the aim of opening up alternative income opportunities and creating new jobs. Over 30,000 people have already benefited from the revenue generated by parks and conservation areas that have received financial support from Germany.

In order to mitigate the social and environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BMZ covers a proportion of the running costs of the national parks. This allows the management of the conservation areas to continue and secures the lives and livelihoods of around 180,000 people.

Adapting to climate change

A water storage tank with solar pump installed by the Program for Community Land Development (PCLD)

A water storage tank with solar pump installed by the Program for Community Land Development (PCLD)

A water storage tank with solar pump installed by the Program for Community Land Development (PCLD)

The Namibian government has an active climate policy and is a highly engaged member of the NDC Partnership. Germany supports Namibia in these efforts.

Measures in this area aim, among other things, to reduce conflicts between people and wild animals. Due to increasing drought, farmers are finding themselves competing with elephants over water and fodder crops. Better water infrastructure and crop storage that is secured against wild animals can help to reduce these conflicts. Old diesel pumps are also being replaced with solar-powered systems. This reduces both energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Adapting economic activities

The BMZ is also fostering new income opportunities for Namibia’s rural population. This includes, for example, support for marketing local plant products for the cosmetics industry, such as oil from the marula fruit. More than 14,000 crop harvesters are benefiting from improved working conditions and fairer salaries.

Smallholders are being assisted in adapting their production methods to climate change and focusing more on local markets and food security. Over 30,000 farmers have received training in sustainable agriculture in recent years. Some farmers were able to double their harvests and considerably increase their income.

Fruit and vegetable gardens have been planted in schools, health clinics and outlying municipalities using additional funding from the Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme. This has helped to strengthen local economies and provide access to healthy nutrition for young and vulnerable people in particular.

As at: 27/05/2022