Albertina Nakale Windhoek-With many people travelling to various destinations for their holidays, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has cautioned against travellers littering. The festive season is usually characterised by littering that takes place from travellers’ cars, and at resting places, social events, towns and villages. “I don’t know why people in the parks litter. They drive in their vehicles and throw litter out of the window. Some are not even shy to throw litter when the dustbin is just there. It’s a primitive way of doing things. You see bottles and plastics all over and it’s an eyesore. Some people are with kids – what message are we giving to them?” Shifeta said there is an urgent need for everyone to come on board and address littering. He is concerned that waste, in particular littering, is threatening the country’s reputation as a favourable tourism destination and one of the cleanest countries in Africa and globally. He reiterated his call for everyone to join the clean-up campaigns for Namibia to retain its cleanliness status in Africa. Namibia has lost its historical title of having the cleanest city, Windhoek, in Africa due to the increasing amount of waste accumulating along its national roads, and in towns and villages. For decades Namibia had been lauded as having the cleanest capital on the continent. The spokesperson in the ministry, Romeo Muyunda, urged all holidaymakers and citizens to actively avoid littering while enjoying and having fun over the festive season. “We are encouraging a responsible kind of fun during the festive season and throughout the year. We also encourage people to understand the effects of litter on the environment. Furthermore, improper waste management poses risks to contaminate the soil, air and water with toxins, chemicals and disease-causing bacterial agents. Waste can be dangerous and can persist in the environment for a very long time if left unmanaged,” he said. He explained that littering is one of the most visible and persistent environmental issues facing Namibia and costs the country a substantial amount of resources every year to clean up and repair the damage it causes. He noted that government agencies, municipalities, town and village councils, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and other relevant stakeholders invest in substantial amounts of resources to deal with this problem. Furthermore, he said, Namibia’s natural environment and its biodiversity have contributed immensely to the social and economic development of its people through tourism development. To this end, he said, tourism is one of the important economic sectors in the country due to its contribution to the GDP, employment creation and poverty eradication. However, he added, this sector depends mainly on wildlife and landscapes in which Namibia has a competitive advantage. In this regard, he stated, it is thus crucial that the environment is safeguarded from elements such as unmanaged waste, littering and pollution to ensure that the economic sector of tourism is sustained to benefit people. “To prevent damaging our ecosystems and maintain a high quality of life for our citizens, we must manage our waste properly. We need to change our lifestyle by adopting the three ‘Rs’ – reuse, recycle and reduce. Namibians can join the race to make the world a better place through recycling, reuse and reduction of waste, and by avoiding littering,” he encouraged. He feels this should become a people’s movement, in which regional and local authorities, traditional authorities, local communities, civil society and every one should participate. Despite this huge investment, he says, more still needs to be done in terms of resources, both financial and human, to change the mindset of people for them to view environmental protection as a mainstream issue. He believes ignorance is the biggest challenge – despite all efforts and investment, litter still exists everywhere in the country. Therefore, the ministry called upon every member of society, schools, communities, towns, tourists and various stakeholders to join hands and ensure a litter-free Namibia.
New Era Reporter
2017-12-20 09:21:55 10 months ago