Sasscal determined to tackle climate change

Anna Shiweda

Climate change remains a reality and continues to have a devastating impact on the environment as well as on the social and economic sectors, the agriculture deputy minister, Anna Shiweda, has said.

She was addressing the third ordinary meeting of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (Sasscal) council of ministers in Luanda, Angola, on Tuesday.

Sasscal is a joint initiative by Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Germany in response to the challenges of global change. The current processes of global change, including demographic change, climate change and the globalisation of economic systems are an enormous challenge for societies worldwide.

Shiweda said as a manifestation of this phenomenon, last year some countries in the southern Africa region experienced another drought, which required governments to dig deep into state coffers to fund life-saving drought response and mitigation interventions.

“In the case of Namibia, the government has already declared drought and measures are underway to implement a drought relief programme to assist the vulnerable and affected communities all in the 14 regions of the country,” she said.

Shiweda said the initiative to establish Sasscal in response to global climate change challenges could not be more relevant.

“As member states, therefore, we should continue to harness, support and strengthen the governance of this important institution,” she said.

According to Shiweda, the partnership and participation in Sasscal is in pursuance of the Southern African Development Community and African Union integration agenda in the area of science, land and advancement of human capacity development.

“Namibia, therefore, wishes to reiterate its commitment and dedication towards the success of Sasscal, and also to commend the commitment and contribution of other member states towards the achievement of Sasscal’s objectives,” she added.

The deputy minister said as a country often affected by climate change induced phenomena, such as drought and floods, Namibia, attaches great importance to the thematic and programmatic work of Sasscal.

“It is for this reason that we fast-tracked the signing and ratification of the Sasscal Treaty, and continue to make everything possible to honour our annual membership contributions,” said Shiweda and urged other member states to sign and ratify this important legal instrument if they had not done so.

Shiweda said the construction of the Sasscal headquarters in Windhoek is expected to start in the first quarter of 2024 and N$26 million has been made available for this purpose.

She appealed for more SADC member states to join the institution to arrest the devastating effects of climate change.

She said Sasscal had achieved a lot since its establishment in 2010 and member states had reaped substantial benefits from the 88 research projects, of which 19 were implemented in Namibia.

In addition, Sasscal funded 110 students in Namibia to obtain degrees, including 10 PhDs. Many of those graduates are working in the private and public institutions.

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