Nicole van Wyk
The philosophy at the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia is straightforward. It aims to endorse activities and projects that protect and maintain the natural and environmental resources of the country to benefit all Namibians. Further, the goal is to empower and enhance community initiatives by giving community members complete ownership of their projects.
At Sikanjabuka Community Forest the need and commitment to improving livelihoods by encouraging community participation do not go unheeded. Motivation and passion from community members here are extraordinary. By January 2021, community members at the Sikanjabuka Community Forest planted their first seeds, harvested soon after and started selling their yields by July 2021.
One of the flagship projects of the Fund, Empower to Adapt – Creating Climate Change Resilient Livelihoods through Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM EDA) funded four (4) water tanks that hold 10 000 litres of water each; the fencing thereof rehabilitated four (4) boreholes, installed a drip irrigation system provided a tractor for planting and reaping, netting for the greenhouse, beekeeping equipment and training, including 42 boxes for the bees (two boxes per beneficiary). At least 11 households benefit from these rehabilitated boreholes. Additionally, these boreholes supply water to four backyard gardens and allow for water consumption for at least 150 cattle. Although most of these households are headed by men, it is worth noting that at least two of the 11 households are led by women.
The CBNRM EDA project manager, Selma Shitilifa, mentioned that during the application procedure Sikanjabuka Community Forest was one of the CBO’s (Community-Based Organisation) that applied without a supporting entity and service provider upon submitting their proposal. So, EIF had to facilitate the procurement process for them, and they appointed a project manager from their community. “We are supporting the management of their project in collaboration with their committees. We are glad to see that EIF can support the communities and at the same time empower them to manage projects with the assistance of their members. Also, we are very pleased to see the number of females involved in the project. That shows a great deal of gender mainstreaming happening at the project as well as community level and that communities are becoming more aware of climate change adaptation practices,” said Shitilifa.
Ten women are employed on a full-time basis in their state of the art fitted greenhouse. According to the project manager of Sikanjabuka Community Forest, Innocent Ntemwa (39), they learn as much as they can when they can.
“What sets us apart is our eagerness and willingness to learn and better our craft here. To gather knowledge and share the knowledge with others,” he said.
He says that is it the first time he oversees such a large project, but he is very proud of the positive changes that have come about so far.
“The women here are very pleased about learning how to grow and manage different crops, learn new skills, but most importantly these women feel empowered,” said Ntemwa. This project has brought about developments within the area, such as food security, employment and transferring of skills. Here they are big on teamwork and hold each other accountable for actions not completed. Some of the crops presently grown here are kale, spinach, cabbage, green peppers, onions, and carrots sprouts like no other.
In the future, they are keen on growing maize, orchids, four (4) more nurseries’, fish ponds for aquaculture and other fruit trees.
Another activity they take seriously is monitoring the illegal harvesting of timber. Community members have pledged to ensure strict monitoring of cutting down trees and have the power vested in them to deal with culprits when caught. Viola Miliko, Sikanjabuka Community Forest treasurer says community members caught harvesting illegal timber will be dealt with.
“When people are caught with illegal logs, they always want to be rude and avoid confrontation, but we urge people not to harvest timber illegally and cooperate with us. It is a serious crime, and it is something we do not take lightly here,” she said.
These logs are confiscated and then later sold to the community members for firewood. In return, the money generated here is used to buy diesel or tyres.
Anticipating the beekeeping activity, as bees have not been trapped so far, the community members will house their bees together. While the house for the bees is yet to be constructed, these members have already received training in January 2021 and cannot wait to start with this part of the project. (CBNRM EDA) project is funded to the tune of USD 10 million by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through Enhanced Direct Access (EDA) with the National Designated Authority (NDA) being the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
The project is implemented by the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF), as the accredited entity to the GCF, through a Project Management Unit (PMU) for five (5) years (2017-2021). This project aims to ensure that local communities within the CBNRM areas have reduced vulnerability and increased resilience to the anticipated impacts of climate change by incorporating climate adaptation response strategies into local practices so that assets, livelihoods and ecosystem services are protected from climate-induced risks associated with expected droughts, seasonal shifts and other climate disaster events.