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Climate change could bowl us over

23 February 2007, New Era/allAfrica
URL: http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200702220683.html



Windhoek:   Climate change threatens to become one of the most significant and costly issues that may affect Namibia's development process. Although Namibia contributes little to greenhouse emissions, its arid environment, recurrent drought and desertification and fragile ecosystem make it one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change.

Countries that are the most vulnerable include those with ecosystems under stress, especially arid places such as Namibia, and developing countries with weak economies, poorly developed infrastructure and weak institutions.

Namibia, according to Minister of Environment and Tourism Willem Konjore, has a natural resource-based economy with limited technical and financial resources to adapt to the effects of climate change, which makes it vulnerable.

Predicted effects of climate change in Namibia include increase in temperatures by between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius by 2100, a rise in the sea level of 0.3m to 1 m, increases in rainfall of 30 mm per year and decreases of 200mm below the current rainfall average.

The predicted sea level rise would flood parts of Walvis Bay but with the other coastal areas of Henties Bay and Swakopmund remaining less vulnerable.

"The greatest impact is likely to be in the central areas with evaporation is likely to rise by 5 percent per degree of warming, a scenario where with rainfall unchanged will still result in less available water," says the Namibia and Climate Change booklet.

The ministry on Tuesday launched climate change booklets and the Second National Communication of Namibia on Climate Change (SNC), where Konjore said climate change would affect agriculture and livestock production systems, thereby threatening rural livelihoods and food production.

The predicted rise in sea level, Konjore said, threatens the country's marine industry as well as the coastal economies.

Findings of the Initial National Communication, which Namibia submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in July 2002, indicated that Namibia is a minor producer of greenhouse gases.

The country is now working on the SNC to not only address the potential impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable sectors and the country's national capacity to address the problems, but also to increase the knowledge of Namibians and their awareness of the phenomenon and its impacts.

The Climate Change booklets have been translated into four local languages, namely, Otjiherero, Oshiwambo, Damara/Nama and Afrikaans to increase the level of understanding of climate change issues especially in rural communities, who are the most affected by the phenomenon because of their dependence on agriculture subsistence farming.

The booklets will be distributed at public education activities during this year.

Simon Nhongo, UNDP Resident Representative, said the translated booklets will bring the local communities on board regarding the global and national climate change agenda. He said the SNC will also assist the country in building capacity to assess, monitor and report on climate variability and change and also help with the design of appropriate national response mechanisms.

The Second National Communication will include five components, namely, reviewing and updating the 1994 GHG Inventory, assessing potential impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable sectors, analysing potential measures to abate the increase of GHG emissions, formulating a National Strategy and Action Plan to address climate change and its adverse impacts, and also public awareness, education and training on climate change issues.

According to Konjore, information generated from the SNC will be reported to the UNFCCC and will be used to prepare strategies and action plans that can easily fit into the national development planning processes such as NDP3 and Vision 2030.

Namibia ratified the UNFCCC on May 16, 1995, three years after it was adopted at the Rio .

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