The German embassy in Namibia has availed N$250 million to the environment ministry to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza).
Ellen Gölz, Chargée d’affaires, at the Germany embassy during the resources’ announcement yesterday, said the German government has additionally mobilised N$250 million to support Namibia and Kaza countries efforts to protect biodiversity, secure ongoing activities in the conservation and tourism sector and to safeguard jobs in this sector.
The conservation and tourism sector has been significantly affected by the loss of income from tourism, caused by worldwide lockdown measures and international travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Of these resources, N$96 million is earmarked to mitigate the economic losses to conservation and tourism sector under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism’s Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilient Facility.
An amount of N$77 million is envisaged for measures aiding national parks and protected areas, to minimise detrimental ecological and economic impacts of Covid-19.
Another sum of N$77 million of this commitment will be directed to benefit the Kaza similarly impacted by the pandemic.
“The current times are challenging. The global corona pandemic has shown how fragile our existence is and how easy livelihoods can be threatened. The pandemic’s impact on health and the resulting humanitarian and socio-economic consequences effect all areas of life. It not only threatens lives and public health systems,” Gölz said.
Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said tourism, which is the principal economic force in conservancies and pays for the conservation protection costs, is particularly hard hit.
“The predictions for lost income and massive job losses in this sector are particularly painful in rural areas, where the majority of the population ekes out a subsistence living, which has been seriously weakened by the recent six-year drought,” Shifeta remarked.
To date, Namibia has 86 conservancies covering more than 166 000 square km or 20% of Namibia, encompasses approximately 222 000 community members, 9% of Namibia’s population and have seen widespread recoveries of wildlife.
Shifeta, therefore, noted underpinning the success of the communal conservancy programme is the simple but revolutionary idea of turning communities into wildlife protectors, thus creating a proud legacy of community game guards in Namibia and building a conservation-economy.
Further, he said conservancy income from tourism operations is approximately N$60 million per year, with an additional N$65 million paid in salaries to tourism staff living in conservancies.
“The jobs of 700 community game guards and rhino rangers, 300 conservancy support staff, and 1175 locally hired tourism staff are in jeopardy, and the 30-year effort to build Namibia’s communal conservancy programme is under severe threat,” said Shifeta.
In response to address the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry has established the Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilient Facility to address the threat of Covid-19 to the long term sustainability of conservation and the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme in Namibia, under the guidance of a task team appointed by the ministry.