Namibia is drowning in its own waste

21 September 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Filthiness is not what defines the character of Namibia, says environment minister Pohamba Shifeta.

According to him there is huge concern about adherence to the Environmental Management Act, particularly waste management and disposal.

“As a country we seem to be failing to manage the waste we are generating in our business, residences and homes, threatening the functionality of the environment.”

Shifeta’s speech was read on his behalf by Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu at the commemoration of World Clean-up Day at Katima Mulilo on Saturday.

Toxic

“Namibia is drowning in its own waste of all sorts, ranging from household to industrial and medical waste, which is harmful to humans, animals and the environment in general.”

He said it is a concern to the ministry to observe that Namibians are becoming used to waste to the extent that they have normalised being around filthy environments.

Shifeta stressed that the environment is a source of livelihood for many Namibians and once it is disturbed, it may lose its ability to support people.

“We are already seeing signs pointing to an unstable environment, with climate change leading to irregular rainfall patterns and drought in many parts of our country, affecting food security.”

Shifeta said filthy surroundings attract diseases and in most cases such areas become breeding grounds for mosquitos, which transmit diseases such as malaria.

He said the greatest challenge Namibia is facing today is environmental pollution through littering, which remains a challenge to environmental management and protection.

Local government failure

According to him this remains a huge challenge for the country due to limited resources and capacity at regional level, local authorities, settlements and village councils.

He said although the government had introduced a plastic bag levy, it was now considering a total ban on plastic shopping bags because plastic pollution presents the greatest threat to life in the oceans and on earth.

“We are concerned about environmental degradation and biodiversity loss due to pollution, especially hazardous waste emanating from the health and chemical industries and the agricultural sector, which finds ways to water sources and finally get ingested by humans and animals,” said Shifeta.

He said regional and local authorities should allocate financial and human resources to provide waste management services to their residents.

He also urged them to develop local waste management policies, strategies and enforceable by-law and waste management regulations to manage the handling of waste within their boundaries.

He said the population of Namibian is increasing and therefore all regional and local authorities should align regional and town planning to population growth and the amount and type of waste that is likely to be generated in the next 50 years.

Shifeta said Namibia needed a dramatic change toward refuse collection, reuse and recycling.