San's existence under threat

09 July 2020 | Environment

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



The San's environment is constantly under threat, and while they were once able to sustain themselves and their way of life, their very existence is now under threat due to outside forces and activities.

Human activities like poaching, illegal harvesting, littering, mining, illegal grazing and over-farming have major detrimental impacts on the environment and the San feel this acutely.

This is according to a statement by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, this has caused them to seek assistance and help from organisations like the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF), amongst others.

These organisations have helped and supported them to keep their environment and way of life going by supporting irrigation and agricultural projects, as well as mitigating adverse environmental impacts.

The foundation said this has also given the San and their surroundings a voice in courts of law when illegal activities take place in and around their delicately balanced conservancies.



Crucial

The relationship the San have with their environment is crucial to their very survival, and when it comes to the environment and nature, the San are some of the people closest to the environment, the foundation said.

“They have witnessed their environment changing, evolving, absorbing and being impacted by human activities. Often suffering because of the way other people treat the environment, which impacts their livelihoods, their way of life and compromises their very existence.”

The foundation said the San have worked, lived and thrived on the land for generations and have always lived finely attuned to the environment they find themselves in.

“Knowing there is a delicate balance between being able to rear cattle and planting crops and doing that in a sustainable manner and exhausting the environment.”



Overgrazing

Too many cattle will cause overgrazing and over-farming without letting the soil regenerate and causes the land to deteriorate to such an extent that it is no longer arable, the foundation said. This causes soil erosion and desertification in the long run, something Namibia, an arid country, is already constantly battling.

Poaching, illegal harvesting, littering, mining, illegal grazing and over-farming were also highlighted as having major detrimental impacts on the environment and the San's way of life.

However, despite judicial rulings in their favour to stop illegal grazing and illegal fencing, these judgements are often ignored.

“This flagrant ignoring of judgements and laws causes the conservancies within which the San live to be severely compromised, in turn compromising their very way of life and existence.”

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