FAO in Namibia

Restoring ecosystems through sustainable forest and land management in Namibia

Direct use of forest resources, largely from harvesting of fuel wood and poles for construction of houses and fences mostly by rural households, is one of the lead causes of land degradation. ©FAO/P.Tobias

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) hosted the inception workshop and official launch of the project called “Integrated landscape management to reduce, reverse and avoid further degradation and support the sustainable use of natural resources in the Mopane-Miombo belt of northern Namibia”.

The project, also referred to as the GEF-7 Dryland Sustainable Landscape Impact Program (DSL-IP) Namibia Child Project, is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to a total value of USD 6 130 275 million and forms part of the Sustainable Forest Management Program on Dryland Sustainable Landscapes by GEF.

Ecosystem restoration

In a speech read on his behalf during the project launch, Pohamba Shifeta, MEFT Minister, noted that the DSL-IP Namibia Child Project came at the right time as the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021-2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

“This recognizes the need to massively accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems, to fight the climate crisis, enhance food security, provide clean water, and protect biodiversity on the planet,” he said.

Shifeta equally noted that Namibia’s important Miombo-Mopane Woodland Ecoregion in the Okavango and Kunene basins, which supports thousands of livelihoods, is facing extensive land degradation citing deforestation, unsustainable land use and production practices, poverty and climate change as the lead causes.

 “As part of its contribution to the UN decade on ecosystem restoration and our commitment to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s goal to attain Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2040, Namibia has partnered with FAO to implement this transformative project,” said the Minister.

Meanwhile Bonifatius Wakudumo, Kavango East governor, urged stakeholders to ensure they develop mechanisms and strategies to overcome most of the environmental problems faced by communities through the project.

“Let us stand as a united force in transforming our production systems through integrated landscape approaches to avoid, reduce and reverse land and forest degradation for the betterment of our environment and its people,” he said.

Sustaining livelihoods

FAO Representative in Namibia (ad interim), Lewis Hove, said during the launch that over the past five years FAO has been supporting the Government of Namibia in ensuring that the DSL-IP Child Project became a reality.

“This is a five-year journey that offers a catalytic country-driven and innovative outlook on how to avoid reduced and reversed land degradation and deforestation of our ecosystem. This is also a Namibian project to be implemented by Namibians that will benefit locals,” said Hove.

Hove also noted that FAO has recognized the ever-increasing need to ensure sustainable livelihoods for many Namibians who draw benefits from various natural resources, especially across landscapes that are gradually under threat from land degradation.

“The ever-increasing population requires healthy land resources and flourishing ecosystems to ensure, amongst others, food security for vulnerable communities that are most at risk of suffering from the adverse effects of a poorly managed environment,” he said.

Globally, it is estimated that more than 25% of the world's population lives and derives their livelihoods in drylands, especially in developing countries such as Namibia.

Hove concluded his speech by reaffirming FAO’s commitment to support the Government of Namibia to build a more sustainable future by helping to achieve Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life,  leaving no one behind.

The DSL-IP Child Project in Namibia

The DSL-IP Child Project aims to avoid, reduce and reverse further degradation, desertification and deforestation of land and ecosystems in drylands, through the sustainable management of production landscapes – both farms and remaining forest patches. 

The project forms part of the global Sustainable Forest Management Impact Program on Dryland Sustainable Landscapes by GEF that is benefitting 11 countries across Africa and Asia. The countries are namely Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

In Namibia, the project will see its implementation in three landscapes across the Mopane-Miombo woodlands in three northern regions of the country. These are the Kunene-Cuvelai sub-basin landscape (Omusati), the Etosha sub-basin landscape (Oshikoto), and the Okavango sub-basin landscape (Kavango East).