Namibia and SADC Parliament Forum Rally for Urgent Desertification Solutions

© David Yarrow

This year’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was commemorated by the SADC event held in Eenhana, Namibia. The 2024 edition is significant for marking the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the only legally binding international treaty on land management and drought.

Namibia and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) underscored the importance of collective efforts to combat land degradation as the nation observed World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, local media reported.

Under this year’s theme, “United for Land: Our Legacy. Our Future,” Namibian Minister for Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta addressed the forum on occasion emphasizing the power of sustainable land management in addressing global challenges and securing future land resources.

“The theme highlights the transformative power of sustainable land management in tackling global challenges and ensuring the future of our land resources,” the minister was quoted as saying by the media.

According to Shifeta, a healthy land is crucial for livelihoods, food security, and defense against calamities like floods and droughts.

The minister pointed out that drought and desertification worsen forced migration and pose a serious threat to human health. He underlined Namibia’s dedication to tackling these problems by way of the Sustainable Land Management Steering Committee and involvement in global projects such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration and the SADC Great Green Wall.

Shifeta also confirmed Namibia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, emphasizing the planting of trees and ecosystem restoration as means of lowering carbon emissions. Namibia will also be participating in the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program.

“This year, the ministry aims to distribute 30,000 tree seedlings across the country to promote community involvement in greening initiatives,” he said.

Recent reports underscore a worrisome increase in the severity of drought, affecting more than 55.6 million people in the southern African region during the 2021/2022 El Nino-induced drought, stated Boemo Sekgoma, Secretary General of the SADC PF, in her message to the forum.

“By implementing rigorous oversight, parliaments can hold governments and other stakeholders accountable for policies and programmes aimed at combating land degradation,” she said.

The actions to help the land include encouraging sustainable farming methods, funding afforestation and reforestation initiatives, and improving water conservation measures. Education and awareness campaigns were also emphasized as critical elements in the battle against land degradation by the Secretary General in her speech.

Sekgoma pointed out that by educating the public on the value of sustainable land management as well as the effects of drought and desertification, people will be more empowered to take action and support the preservation of natural resources.

“The actions we take today will determine the legacy we leave for future generations,” Sekgoma concluded, imploring partner parliaments and member parliaments to step up their efforts to address these urgent problems.

Namibia, a semi-arid nation with the lowest average rainfall in Southern Africa, also has one of the largest and oldest deserts in the world, the Namib. This unusual terrain presents serious difficulties for agriculture and subsistence due to its large, parched stretches and scarce water supplies.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, observed annually on June 17, is a United Nations initiative aimed at raising awareness about the significant impacts of desertification and drought. It promotes sustainable land management, combats desertification and drought, and highlights the need for restoring lands and effective policies.

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