Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building in Namibia: UN/UNDP’s role in combatting climate change

The UN in Namibia supports the people of Namibia through the ‘United Nations Partnership Assistance Framework’ (UNPAF) which covers interventions in four pillars: 1) Economic Progression, 2) Social Transformation, 3) Environmental Sustainability, and 4) Good Governance. 

UNDP work in Namibia is ultimately to accelerate sustainable development, particularly aimed to eradicate poverty, address inequalities, and enhance management of environmental resources by building resilience to climate shocks and crises. UNDP works in partnership with various actors, entities, and institutions, drawn from the public, private and civil society, inclusive of academia and think tanks. The UN through the UNDP technical leadership in Namibia is enabling relevant policies, regulatory frameworks, and institutions to ensure the conservation, sustainable use, access, and benefit sharing of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, in line with international conventions and national legislation. Moreover, UNDP, through collaborative effort supports scaling up integrated and innovative action on climate change adaptation and mitigation across priority sectors, inclusive of mobilization of resources to fund and implement specific projects, be it on adaptation or mitigation. UNDP in partnership with the government and others is further promoting the adoption of inclusive and sustainable renewable energy solutions, and their adoption by renewable energy technology suppliers and industries to achieve increased energy efficiency and universal modern energy access (especially off-grid sources of renewable energy). Besides those, UNDP promotes and advocates for the people’s voice on climate matters. Specifically supporting Namibia to update its NDC by having ambitious targets in the four IPCC sectors (Energy, AFOLU, IPPU and Waste). Namibia is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. Per the Namibia’s Fourth National Communication (NC4) to the UNFCCC submitted in 2019, there is sufficient evidence confirming the vulnerabilities (economic, environmentally and social) and impacts arising from  erratic rainfall patterns (more floods and frequent droughts) as observed over the past three decades. Climate change mainly impacts small-scale farmers (SSFs) who depend on rainfed agricultural production for their livelihoods, health, and well-being. As the SSFs need good land and adequate rainfall on time, climate change impacts the fertility of the soil, availability of water and overall production. Such that if the rainfall is too much it impacts food production (Goal 15), sanitation (Goal 5), and health (Goal 3) negatively. Conversely, if it’s too little it impacts livestock conditions (mainly unavailability of fodder and water). Due to frequent and persistent occurrences of these CC impacts, majority of SSFs remains vulnerable. Their vulnerabilities are mainly attributed to: heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture, water scarcity at the national level, limited local adaptation strategies and measures, lack of climate proofed infrastructure, limited adaptation capacity and absence of climate resilience strategies. Following the recent trends, Namibia’s urban and rural populations (and residents esp. in informal settlements) are to a greater extent being impacted at their micro-climates, particularly at household levels, where lack of water and proper sanitation facilities are multiply compromised owing to lack of decent living standards.

Given these vulnerabilities, Namibia is placing efforts in building the country’s resilience to shocks and crises at the national and local level. UNDP refers to ‘resilience’ as the “ability of individuals, households, communities, cities, institutions, systems and societies to prevent, resist, absorb, adapt, respond and recover positively, efficiently and effectively when faced with a wide range of risks, while maintaining an acceptable level of functioning and without compromising long-term prospects for sustainable development, peace and security, human rights and well-being for all”. At the local levels, UNDP supported local communities’ adaptive capacity by targeting the agricultural sector considered to be extremely vulnerable to climate change. The support included assisting farmers to adapt to the negatives impacts of climate change between 2014 and 2019. During this period, UNDP in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided technical and financial support towards the government’s programme that aimed to “scale-up community resilience to climate variability and climate change in Northern Namibia”, with a focus on vulnerable women and children. As part of these efforts, about 4000 households strengthened their adaptive capacities to climate change and reduced their vulnerability to droughts and floods -approximately 60% of the beneficiaries were women. In spite of current government efforts to address climate change, Namibia is still not at an advanced stage to be referred to as being a climate resilient country. The country’s population and vulnerable communities are not well prepared nor well capacitated to address climate change-related impacts, both now and in future. Given this predicament, the OPM and key partners such as the MEFT requested UNDP’s support to adapt to CC, and to develop the National Resilience Building Strategy and Costed Action Plan for Namibia, through a comprehensive stakeholder engagement and participatory approach. Once developed and fully implemented, it is presumable that Namibia will be in a better position to build the national capacity to anticipate, mitigate, respond and recover from existing and future shocks. This is because, Namibia is seeking UNDP’s support to build the “absorptive, adaptive, anticipative, preventive and transformative” capacities.