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Environmental funding helps women grow in stature at Sikanjabuka Community Forest

Environmental funding helps women grow in stature at Sikanjabuka Community Forest

By Nicole van Wyk.

The philosophy at the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia is straightforward. It endorses activities and projects that protect and maintain natural and environmental resources for the benefit all Namibians.

A further goal is to empower and enhance community initiatives by giving community members complete ownership of their projects.

At Sikanjabuka Community Forest the need and commitment to improve livelihoods by encouraging community participation do not go unheeded. Motivation and passion from community members here are extraordinary. By January 2021, community members at the Sikanjabuka Community Forest planted their first seeds, harvested soon after and started selling their yields by July 2021.

One of the fund’s flagship projects, Empower to Adapt – Creating Climate Change Resilient Livelihoods through Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM EDA) – funded four 10 cubic metre water tanks, each holding 10,000 litres of water each, and fencing them. Also, four boreholes were rehabilitated, a drip irrigation system was installed and a tractor was provided for planting and harvesting. Next came the netting for a greenhouse, 42 beehouses (two per beneficiary), the required equipment for beekeeping, and training for the community members.

At least 11 households benefitted from these rehabilitated boreholes. Additionally, they supply water to four backyard gardens and enough water for at least 150 cattle. Although most of these households are headed by men, it is worth noting that two of the 11 are led by women.

Project Manager, Selma Shitilifa, mentioned that during the application procedure Sikanjabuka Community Forest was one of the CBO’s (Community-Based Organisation) that applied without a supporting entity and service provider upon submitting their proposal.

So the Environmental Fund had to facilitate the procurement process for them, and they appointed a project manager from their community. “We are supporting the management of their project in collaboration with their committees. We are glad to see that EIF can support the communities and at the same time empower them to manage projects with the assistance of their members. Also, we are very pleased to see the number of females involved in the project. That shows a great deal of gender mainstreaming happening at the project as well as at community level and that communities are becoming more aware of climate change adaptation practices” said Shitilifa.

Ten women are employed on a full-time basis in their state-of-the-art greenhouse. According to the Project Manager of Sikanjabuka Community Forest, Mr Innocent Ntemwa (39), they learn as much as they can, when they can. “What sets us apart is our eagerness and willingness to learn and better our craft here. To gather knowledge and share the knowledge with others.”

It is the first time he oversees such a large project but he is very proud of the positive changes that have come about so far. “The women here are very pleased about learning how to grow and manage different crops, learn new skills, but most importantly these women feel empowered,” said Ntemwa. This project has brought about development within the area, such as food security, employment and transferring of skills. Here they are big on teamwork and hold each other accountable for actions not completed. Some of the crops presently grown here are kale, spinach, cabbage, green peppers, onions, and carrots. In the future, they are keen on growing maize, ornamental orchids and a variety of fruit trees for which they will need four more nurseries. They also have their eyes on fish ponds for commercial aquaculture.

Another activity they take seriously is monitoring the illegal harvesting of timber. Community members have pledged to ensure strict monitoring of felling trees and have the vested power to deal with culprits when caught. Ms Viola Miliko, Sikanjabuka Community Forest’s treasurer said community members caught illegally harvesting timber will be dealt with. “When people are caught with illegal logs, they always want to be rude and avoid confrontation, but we urge people not to harvest timber illegally and cooperate with us. It is a serious crime, and it is something we do not take lightly here “she said. These logs are confiscated and then later sold to the community members for firewood. In return, the money generated here is used to buy diesel or tyres.

For the beekeeping part of the project, wild bees still have to be trapped and transferred to the beehouses. Once this process commences the community members will house their bees together. While the actual beehouses are yet to be constructed, the members have already received training in January 2021 and can’t wait to start with this part of the project.

Community-Based Natural Resource Management in Namibia” (CBNRM EDA) Project” is funded to the tune of USD 10 million by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through Enhanced Direct Access (EDA) with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as the National Designated Authority. The project is implemented by the Environmental Investment Fund as the accredited entity to the GCF, through a Project Management Unit (PMU) for five years from 2017 to 2021. This project reduces the vulnerability of local communities in the Community Based Natural Resource Management areas. At the same time it increases resilience to the anticipated impact of climate change by incorporating climate adaptation response strategies into local practices so that assets, livelihoods and ecosystems are protected from climate-induced risks associated with prolonged droughts, seasonal shifts and other climate disaster events.

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Mr Innocent Ntemwa, Project Manager at the Sikandjabuka Community Forest flanked by three of the ten women employed at the newly upgraded greenhouse.


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