In its efforts towards eco-friendly sustainability, the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF), in conjunction with the agriculture ministry, has started implementing a project aimed at improving farming practices for farmers living under harsh climatic conditions.
This is part of EIF’s green funding project aimed at improving rangeland and ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers under conditions of climate change in Sesfontein, Fransfontein and Warmquelle in the Kunene region, in short known as (IREMA).
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) provided N$130 million for the IREMA project and the ministry of agriculture towards the implementation of the project, which runs until 2023. The project aims to reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers under climate change conditions by safeguarding natural capital that generates ecosystem services to sustain agricultural production systems.
The IREMA project is GCF’s first approved project under the simplified approval process (SAP). The project area focuses on the vast Kunene region in north-western Namibia, which is currently grappling with the impacts of climate change with forecasts predicting increased lengths of the dry season.
The most vulnerable populations are small-scale and subsistence farmers, mostly women, whose livelihoods depend entirely on livestock and rain-fed agriculture for food security and income.
In an interview with New Era, EIF CEO Benedict Libanda said the project aims to reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers and invest in climate-smart agriculture techniques by improving access to water and increasing both livestock and crop production.
“We have made substantial disbursements. The EDA [Empower to Adapt] projects that we handed over at the Country Club, about 80% of that commitment has already been disbursed. Kunene continues to receive the largest sums of our funding with a dedicated project worth N$136 million under implementation. Moreover, the newly EDA project covers the Kunene region as a landscape target as well,” Libanda noted.
So far, goats, fodder and fuel-efficient stoves with a combined value of N$3.2 million have been donated to beneficiaries.
Libanda explained that the IREMA Kunene project’s small stock revolving scheme complements small stock development and distribution to communal areas, which is a capital project initiated by the agriculture ministry. This scheme aims at providing a quality core breeding flock of suitable goats to selected vulnerable households to gain a sustainable means of income generation and enhanced food and nutrition security, while improving their social and economic well-being.
He said about 400 doe and 20 buck have been earmarked for Kunene. Twenty selected beneficiaries will each receive 20 doe and one buck.
“A revolving agreement will be signed between the ministry and the beneficiaries to ensure that goats are used for the intended purpose. As per the revolving agreement the beneficiaries are expected to revolve the first 10 doe during the third year, the next five doe during the fourth year and the last five doe during the fifth year,” Libanda added.
The project also saw the handing over of energy-efficient stoves to rural poor households valued at N$1 million. By 2023, Libanda said, the IREMA Kunene project has a target of procuring and consequently distributing more than 1 000 stoves to vulnerable households valued at approximately N$4 million.
This intervention is expected to reduce the deforestation rate due to minimised utilisation of firewood by the beneficiaries. Another milestone, he said, was the handover of fodder for distribution to farmers valued at N$1.2 million.
“This fodder is an intervention to address the devastating impacts of drought that Kunene region continues to experience. The project plans to develop the Khowarib green scheme plot of nine hectares at Sesfontein area for intensive fodder production on a large-scale using climate-smart technologies at a cost of approximately N$15 million,” he noted. The plan to develop this green scheme includes but is not limited to the rehabilitation of the three boreholes, installation of climate-smart irrigation systems, and renovation of the existing fodder storage facility and fence.