The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Namibia has been supporting the Government and People of Namibia with the implementation of development programmes and projects since 1990. Such programmes and projects generally aim to improve the protection and conservation of natural resources, particularly renewable ones that people depend on for daily survival, i.e. use for food and to secure incomes and other benefits – a conservation for development approach. To date, with generous support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) the total investment is some N$705 million with a further N$180 million scheduled for 2016-2020.

The well-being and the ability of people living outside urban centres and/or formal towns are at the centre of development activities as these are the people who generally fall among the poorest of the poor and are most affected by impacts of climate change. More than 80% of the total investment reaches the local level to support vulnerable, marginalised and poor communities. This population comprises more than 55% of the national population.

As the world celebrated the “UN at 70” [years] on 25 October 2015, in Namibia we also celebrate the “UN at 25”. This has been a period during which the UNDP supported capacity development of individuals, communities and government to adapt to a changing climate and environment. Namibians in urban and rural areas now better understand the causes, predicted and observed impacts of climate change on the environment and, more importantly on their lives and ability to secure livelihoods. Through providing seed-funding to devise and test innovative development solutions, more than 50,000 individuals (including some 2,000 rural households) have bene tted to date while some have gone on to mainstream successful practices in both subsistence crop and livestock farming and to some extent commercial farming – referred to as community- based adaptation to climate change, and/or climate-smart agriculture.

Our development agenda remains aligned with national priorities while ensuring incremental contribution to global targets, such as the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At regional and global scale, the UNDP takes a proactive approach to support poverty eradication and to halt the effects of climate change by engaging with governments to relate SDGs to national circumstances and to support implementation to meet their targets. UNDP appreciate the urgency to address these critical development challenges particularly as Africa may face its hottest year on record with climate-induced impacts such as higher temperatures than normal and lower rainfall than normal already being observed. Lower food production than normal is also reported across most part of the continent and this is alarming given the already high numbers of under- and malnourished. 

Over the coming five years, UNDP Namibia will support thousands of households and small-scale farmers in rural areas – and, to a lesser extent urban areas – to:

  1. mainstream successful small-scale farming practices to other parts of Namibia where they will work;

  2. establish sustainable local level enterprises that move pressure away from scarce resources and enable more people to benefit;

  3. ensure that people have appropriate skills and knowledge – particularly governance and enterprise development – to sustain success and enable peer-to-peer learning.

Through such practical interventions with people who are worst affected by climate change, UNDP believes we can make lasting impact to save the “smile of Africa”; Namibia. 

 

About the author: Nico Willemse joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Namibia office in August 2014 as the Team Leader for the Energy and Environment portfolio of projects. He holds a MSc in International Fisheries Management with more than 15 years of work experience in project development, monitoring and evaluation, environmental impact assessment, policy and institutional development and, community mobilisation and empowerment.