Shifeta calls for collective action to mitigate the impact of drought

Niël Terblanché

During the Commemoration of World Wetlands Day and World Water Day 2024 in Opuwo, Kunene Region, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, emphasized the severe impact of prolonged drought on both conservation efforts and the livelihoods of local communities.

With the themes “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing” and “Leveraging Water for Peace,” the minister stressed the critical challenges faced by the region since 2012, punctuated by only sporadic good rainy seasons.

Shifeta, while addressing a gathering of community members, shed light on the dire water scarcity impacting the Kunene Region, noting a concerning trend of boreholes drying up and water tables falling to levels below viable extraction.

“The water scarcity has exacerbated the human-wildlife conflict, particularly with elephants, as competition for the diminishing natural water sources intensifies,” he said.

Amid these challenges, Shifeta outlined the Ministry’s efforts to mitigate conflict situations and improve water accessibility. Innovations include the establishment of elephant-friendly water points and the transition from diesel to solar-powered water pumping systems.

He said that these initiatives aim to alleviate the pressure on local communities, ensuring they are not solely responsible for providing water to wildlife, notably elephants.

Shifeta stated that these measures, while significant, are not sufficient to fully address the nation’s overarching water and conservation challenges.

He called for a collective effort involving traditional authorities, regional and local government officials, and the general public to safeguard wetlands.

“These ecosystems are vital for providing clean water for livestock and wildlife and sustaining local communities through food resources,” he said.

Shifeta’s call to action reflects a broader recognition of the interconnectedness of environmental conservation, community well-being, and peace.

According to the minister, the urgency of collaborative efforts to tackle the pressing water issues in Namibia, particularly in regions as severely affected by drought as Kunene cannot be overstated.

The Kunene Region’s plight a lot stresses the critical need for sustainable water management and conservation strategies to support both people and wildlife in the face of climate adversity.

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