--- Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and Ms Anne Madzara, Interim Deputy Resident Representative pictured with some of the beneficiaries---

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) in collaboration with UNDP Namibia and The Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) handed over ten (10) grants to the tune of Six Million Eight Hundred and Twenty-Eight Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-Six Namibian Dollars Only (NAD 6,828, 736.51) through The Namibia Integrated Landscape Approach for Enhancing Livelihoods and Environmental Governance to Eradicate Poverty (NILALEG) Project on Friday, 19 November 2021 in Okatjandja Kozomenje Conservancy, Okorosave Village, Opuwo.

The ten (10) grants have been awarded after finalizing the first call for proposals falling under three investment windows namely, Crop and Rangeland Management (NAD 4,087,289.71), Agroforestry (NAD 1,239,447.80) and Nature-based Enterprise (NAD 1,472,000.00) within four (4) focal landscapes of the NILALEG project.

Total aggregated number and value of grants disbursed under each landscape is as follows:

Zambezi – 3 grants, valued at NAD 2,009,200.00

Ruacana – 2 grants, valued at NAD 1,344,417.71

Omaoipanga – 1 grant, valued at NAD 685,883.00

Okongo – 4 grants, valued at NAD 2,789,235.80

In his Welcoming Remarks, Governor of the Kunene Region, Hon. Marius Sheya, said “I am confident that, if the NILALEG project is successfully implemented, it will result in a consequent paradigm shift of our rural communities in the target landscapes, and subsequent positive project impacts for the region and other regions where it will be implemented”.

Introducing the overview of the NILALEG Project, was Mr Jonas Nghishidi-NILALEG Project Manager and he highlighted that the “project aims to promote an integrated landscape management approach in key agricultural and forest landscapes, reducing poverty through sustainable nature-based livelihoods, protecting biodiversity and restoring forests as carbon sinks, and promoting Land Degradation Neutrality”.

In delivering a statement on behalf of the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia, Mr Benedict Libanda- Chief Executive Officer noted that “This project is unique in many ways. It firstly utilizes a landscape approach to addressing environmental and climate induced threats to Namibian livelihoods. This approach seeks to provide tools and concepts for managing land to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, forest management, and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals”.

Ms. Anne Madzara, Interim Deputy Resident Representative giving her remarks on behalf of Ms. Alka Bhatia, Resident Representative

Expressing delight at the handover ceremony was Ms. Anne Madzara, Interim UNDP Deputy Resident Representative who denoted “This project directly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal Number 15, which deals with Life on Land. This goal seeks to take immediate and substantial steps to eliminate natural habitat destruction, stop biodiversity loss and, by 2023, protect and avoid the extinction of endangered species”. She emphasised that this initiative made local communities true partners and actors for sustainable integrated landscapes management.

Ms. Anne Madzara further noted that “Partnership must continue to be at the heart of our strategy. We should have the humility to acknowledge the essential role of other actors, while maintaining full awareness of our unique convening power." These grants being extended to communities today are therefore a clear demonstration of a strong commitment to partnerships that facilitate the voice and agency of local communities .. nothing without local communities for local communities if we want to achieve sustainable growth and ecological integrity”.

Delivering the Keynote address was the Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, who highlighted that “It is Without a doubt that these grants will help enhance livelihoods of our people and assist in meeting the expected outputs of the Project through the reduction of poverty, protecting and restoring forests as carbon sinks, biodiversity conservation and promoting Land Degradation Neutrality

Shifeta further added, “I am confident that we are on the right track towards improving the living standards of our people as a result of deliberate government interventions that put livelihoods at the centre of our development agenda and the overall attainment of the global commitment through the Sustainable Development Goals.

In delivering the closing remarks was the Executive Director of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Mr. Teofilus Nghitila, who reaffirmed that “As a Government, we continue to count on your usual support and appreciate the important role that you continue to play in disseminating information and ensuring that information reaches the intended recipients”.

Delivering the Vote of thanks was Hon. Hendrik Gaobaeb, the Chairperson of Kunene Regional Council who expressed appreciation for all those that toiled day and night to make the grant award ceremony possible and further indicated that” We are also indebted to our friends and partners, Officials of the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia; Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform; Officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism; Representatives from the House of Vital Royal House and the entire Community Based Natural Resource Management community for being resolute and responsive to the challenges we face in our bid to reverse environmental degradation and maximize sustainable nature-livelihoods in our rural landscapes”.

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