Almost N$4.4 million was paid out to communal conservancies and farmers in communal areas during 2019 through the Human-Wildlife Conflict Self-Reliance Scheme for livestock losses, crop damages and loss of human life or injury to humans.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism annual progress report for 2019/2020, the ministry also introduced several promising mitigation measures in hotspot areas, such as predator-proof kraals, protection walls around water infrastructure, alternative grain storage infrastructure, the installation of elephant drinking troughs as well as mapping out of wildlife migration corridors in affected regions.
Teofilus Nghitila, executive director in the ministry, said despite the recent downturn in the economy, the tourism sector had continued to increase its contribution to it.
In the Tourism Statistical Report of 2018, which was published in the 2019/20 financial year, it was reported that the number of tourism arrivals increased by 3.9% in 2018 with a record number of over 1.5 million visitors.
However, the sector has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closure of borders and the complete absence of visitors from abroad over the past months.
“Income to communal conservancies has also come to a standstill due to the absence of visitors, closure of national parks and accommodation facilities as well as the ceasing of income-generating activities such as trophy hunting,” stated Nghitila.
He added that the recovery of the tourism sector in the context of Covid-19 is therefore a critical challenge confronting the ministry.
He said in terms of increasing revenue and mobilising resources for critical interventions, the ministry continued to step up its efforts. “With regard to the establishment of a national lottery, the consultative process for the Lotteries Act regulations was finalised and the regulations were submitted to the Ministry of Justice.”
New environmental levies were introduced in August 2019 and are being collected through the Ministry of Finance. Nghitila indicated that a total of almost N$24 million of the proceeds from these levies was transferred to the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia for re-investment in environmental protection-related initiatives.
Three new projects were launched during the financial year with funding from the Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility worth US$29.2 million (approximately N$491 million). A further three projects were operationalised with support from the German government to support community conservation, the development of a biodiversity-based economy, and bio-innovation.
Environment and tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta, said the impact of five years of consecutive drought manifested fully in 2019 and placed a considerable burden on the ministry.
“There was a marked increase in instances of human-wildlife conflict and the poor grazing conditions throughout the country required us to undertake major upgrades and renovation of water infrastructure in our protected areas as well as wildlife translocations,” outlined Shifeta.