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Sustainable land management crucial for livelihoods

Dr Wolfgang Werner of the Polytechnic of Namibia. (Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)

Dr Wolfgang Werner of the Polytechnic of Namibia. (Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)

Global facts reveal that at least 2.6 billion people are said to be affected by dry lands with over 50 % of the world’s livestock depending on these dry lands.
The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment estimated that more than 10% of dry lands suffer from one or more forms of land degradation and a further 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.
Desertification in many arid countries is said to be caused by poverty which at the same time also becomes a consequence of desertification, however, experts have revealed that land degradation can be restored and will cost betwen N$ 500 to N$700 to restore one hectare of affected land.
Sustainable Land Management is one of the valuable tools that prevent land degradation and restore degraded areas.The tool has a direct and positive impact on food secuity and the improvement of living conditions of drought and desertification affected communities.
According to Dr Wolfgang Werner of the Polytechnic of Namibia, for Sustainable Land Management to work, it is crucial to fully understand the soci-economic, political and environmental factors that influence land use and land management practices in the country.
“There is a grieving realisation that land degradation is also a manifestation of policy failures therefore although awareness is important, adoption of new strategies depend on existing constraints and appropriate incentives,” said Werner.
He added that because of seasonality and high variability of rainfall, the farming environment can be highly unpredictable and therefore requires flexible land use strategies and practices. According to him, the size of the farm matters in order to successfully implement Sustainable Land Management practices.
In Werner’s opinion, some farm areas especially in the South of the country, are way too small to generate sufficient income and added that many of these farms are not legally protected. “Without legal sanctions, Sustainable Land Management practices cannot be implemented,”said Werner.
Another factor that hampers the successful implementation of Sustainable Land Management, according to Werner, is the large number of farmers who tend to increase their number of livestock.
“ It is almost impossible to advice people to destock on their livestock,” he said.
To improve management of land resources, Werner recommends a Policy Framework that provides incentives to farmers and offer subsidies to large scale commercial farms for specific interventions. He called on government and relevant stakeholders to offer more support on implementation of Sustainable Land Management practices.

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