By Gys Reitz
In its short lifetime the Namibian Coast Conservation and Management (NACOMA) project has entrenched itself in Namibian society to such an extent that it is known more for its awareness-raising and involvement in coastal issues than for its other important work.
As much as the project has seemingly progressed in creating a better understanding about the importance of conservation and sustainable utilisation of the coastal resources, it has been diligently working towards achieving all its main objectives as a short-term project in support of the Namibian Government.
The NACOMA project is paving the way towards an Integrated Coastal Zone Ma-nagement System for Namibia’s coast. The Government of the Republic of Namibia, alongside the Global Environment Facility, is funding the project.
NACOMA was launched in March 2006 as part of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, acting on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Namibia. The NACOMA project office with a small staff complement of five is based at Swakopmund. It facilitates and co-ordinates the participation and inputs from various stakeholders, which include the line ministries, regional councils, local authorities, civil society, sectoral stakeholders, and support organisations. It relies on the co-operation of partner projects and utilises the services and advice of local and international experts and scientists.
A Steering Committee, consisting of the line ministries, the National Planning Commission and the four coastal regions (Kunene, Erongo, Hardap and Karas), monitors the implementation of the project and promotes co-ordination, co-operation and communication between key sectors at national and regional levels.
An Integrated Coastal Zone Management Committee, constituted by the coastal regions, addresses issues of coastal conservation, management and planning. It serves as a high-level overall supervisory and advisory body to the project and liaises with the Steering Committee.
NACOMA established a special Contingency Management Committee to address its specific environmental problems in the dune belt and coastal area between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. This open forum consists of representatives from the Erongo Regional Council, the municipalities of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Coastal Tourism Association of Namibia, adventure sports operators and concerned individuals.
The following were or already are being accomplished according to the specific objectives of the project:
Common vision for the coastal zone
During the intensive and extensive policy formulation process with civil society, scientists and government, the following vision was formulated: “We, the Namibian people, want our coastal areas used in a wise manner, so that social, cultural, environmental and economic concerns are carefully balanced with the overall aim of sustainability in mind, and conservation and economic progress going hand in hand in an integrated manner. All our resources should be developed to their full, including our natural and human resources, with fair and transparent access to opportunities for all, now and into the future.”
Develop and support implementation of the coastal policy
Namibia is already a giant step closer to its own coastal policy, a framework of joint decisions by Government and civil society of how the sensitive stretch of land and sea should be managed to ensure that its biodiversity is preserved and that sustainable development takes place in harmony with the natural resources.
Towards a Coastal Policy for Namibia, the Green Paper document that precedes the White Paper in the policy formulation process was introduced on 21 July 2009. This is the result of an extensive process of public consultation and specialist studies, followed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Namibian Coast Conservation and Management Project since the policy formulation process started in early 2006.
The Coastal White Paper will be completed soon after, when it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval and endorsement. It is hoped that the National Coastal Policy will be implemented through appropriate institutional and legal means by 2011.
Clarify legal and regulatory frame—-work for integrated coastal zone development planning
The project has compiled and submitted recommendations on various options, which were distributed to its working groups among its stakeholders. Work on this is progressing well and will be completed in due course. Good progress is also being made between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources on various management issues related to co-management.
Harmonise institutional mandates and roles for integrated management of coastal zone
One of the most important results of a Coastal Policy would be an Integrated Coastal Zone Management system for Namibia and the creation of the necessary management mechanisms and capacity. The roles, responsibilities and mandates of government institutions involved in biodiversity conservation and coastal development need clarification and harmonisation.
Stakeholders have already been engaged for their inputs. These recommendations will form part of the eventual Coastal White Paper, which will recommend how Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) should be implemented.
Facilitate required training and practical skills to key stakeholders responsible for ICZM
Politicians and government officials, who would have to ensure that Namibia’s coast is managed in an integrated way, are currently being equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills during a series of capacity–building courses, at the coast and in Windhoek. They should be able to manage the Namibian coast in an integrated way, ensuring that the coastal biodiversity is conserved and that socioeconomic development takes place in harmony with the natural resources.
This capacity building is carried out with the assistance of a group of international coastal environmental and planning experts. The project commenced with a series of training courses in June 2009.
Improve awareness about coastal biodiversity and environmental problems.
When the communication started in September 2007, it focused on the policy formulation process, which subsequently extended to various other coastal issues and activities.
Some of the important milestones and ongoing activities are:
• In July 2008 the project launched the Coastodian Awareness and Education Campaign with its distinctive logo and slogan: Caring for the coast – caring for the future. This ongoing campaign will be extended to programmes such as inviting corporate institutions to become Corporate Coastodians, when they comply with the specific requirements of the programme;
• Information workshops for Namibian journalists in 2007 and 2009;
• The implementation and updating of the project website: www.nacoma.org.na. Apart from the latest and focused information, various scientific and investigative reports and policies can be downloaded there;
• A resource book for upper-primary learners and teachers was published in 2009 and is being introduced into eight coastal schools as part of the Coastodian campaign;
• The project commissioned the production of the film The Namib Desert Coast, also to raise further awareness. It premiered in Swakopmund on 30 July 2009 and was subsequently screened several times on NBC TV and One Africa Television. DVD copies were distributed to key stakeholders and it will also be made available to the public at a nominal fee;
• The project initiated several clean-up campaigns along the coast. The latest was on 18 and 19 September 2009 during International Coastal Clean Up Day when 450 learners from schools in the Erongo and Karas regions collected more than three tons of rubbish;
• A Questions and Answers column is being published free of charge in the Namib Times from time to time;
• The project issues regular media releases to all Namibian electronic and print media and is always available for further information and help;
• Radio and television channels, newspapers and other publications often conduct interviews with the project -co-ordinators;
• Special discussion programmes were initiated regarding coastal issues. These were featured on NBC TV’s Talk of the Nation and Good Morning Namibia; and
• The project has been instrumental in soliciting funds and donations for monitoring activities during holiday periods, erection of signage at conservation areas,- fence repairs, free premises for public consultative meetings and free airtime for game wardens on duty at the coast during the holidays.
This article appeared in the 2009/10 edition of Conservation and the Environment in Namibia.