ThinkNamibia Team On The Road: Environmental Awareness Workshop In Outapi, 20-21 September 2016

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The Hanns Seidel Foundation of Namibia (HSF) through its Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project in partnership from the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) have been conducting workshops around the country to increase knowledge and skills on environmental protection, climate change adaptation and mitigation. These workshops are aimed at training local communities on coping strategies as responses to the effects of climate change. The workshop programmes tackles a wide range of issues which are mostly; an overview of climate change, definitions, causes and impacts; our green environment, land degradation, forest and rangeland management, climate smart agriculture, water resources management and last but not least taking actions in raising awareness on environmental issues in communities and key instruments and platforms that one can follow.

The Outapi workshop was attended by participants from all four northern regions, (Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto) and from various professions and organizations, teachers, different ministries, farmers, different development centers and various environmental clubs. Namibia is known as the driest country south of the sub-Sahara profiling between semi-arid to arid environments and for this reason the country have been highly affected by the impacts of climate change. The northern part of the country, where the majority of the population resides, is the most affected by climate change thus begging the need to raise awareness on the environmental and enhancing skills and knowledge in adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The two day workshop which took place from the 20th -21st of September focuses on raising awareness and training participants on the causes of climate change and the impacts that climate change poses on the communities at large. The workshop also highlighted the importance and objectives of the Paris agreement, and its significance to the country. The workshop then also looked at some of the government responses to  climate change which includes the formation of multi-sectoral national climate change committee (NCCC 2001), the national climate change policy of 2011 and the national climate change strategy and action plan (2013-2010).

However to combat climate change and its impacts, it requires the effort of not only the government but also of the civic society. Therefore the Outapi workshop also focused on practices that individuals and communities can engage in to adapt and mitigate climate change. These practices include, and are not limited to, climate smart agriculture through conservation agriculture, minimum tillage and the efficient use of water while also illustrating the importance of trees especially multipurpose trees to the people and environment. Initiatives such as the use of green energy (e.g. solar power), pollution reduction through reduce; reuse and recycling process were also raised. Water crisis and land degradation are also some of the most serious issues affecting the rural farmers and with the knowledge and skills shared during the workshop, the participants are believed to be the multiplier of this information on how to tackle such issues through rangeland management strategies and also soil and water conservation.

Climate change is a global issue and dry counties including Namibia are predicted to be more affected by this phenomenon. With some of the impacts already being felt in Namibia including drought/water crisis, loss of livestock, decrease in yield and food security, there is demand for awareness, information, skills and actions to tackle climate change.