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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: A Case Study of its Application in Namibia


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  • 1. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: A Case Study of its application in Namibia Justine Braby 1. Introduction The global community has long recognized that desertification is a major environmental, social, and economic problem. The first determined international effort to combat desertification began at the end of the Sahelian drought and famine (1974) in which millions of animals and hundreds of thousands of people died.1 However, only in 1992, when developing nations, led by African countries, insisted that one of the priorities of the Rio Summit should be aimed at desertification, was there enough influence to edify a convention. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, particularly in African countries (UNCCD), was adopted in 1994. The main objective of the convention was to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. This objective, among others, was to be carried out by each affected country by a National Action Programme. A National Action Programme (NAP), funded by various developed countries, through the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is a system of projects which sets out to target the causes of desertification, find ways in which to mitigate the effects of drought and combat not only the symptoms of desertification but the actual cause of it too. Although only a set of guidelines, a whole chapter in Agenda 21 is devoted to the practicing of this objective.2 Namibia’s National Programme to Combat Desertification (Napcod) was initiated in 1994, three years prior to its ratification of the UNCCD. It was not formally recognised by the government of Namibia as a NAP as it did not strictly follow the guidelines of the convention. The reason for this was because Napcod had already progressed beyond the NAP objectives and was already in the implementation phase by the time the convention (UNCCD) was finally ratified in Namibia.3 1 Geoffrey Lean Down to Earth: A simplified Guide to the Convention to Combat Desertification, why it is necessary and what is important and different about it (Bonn: Secretariat for the Convention to Combat Desertification,1995) 10 2 Agenda 21: Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Chapter 12 Managing Fragile ecosystems: Combating desertification and drought) Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992 3 Shirley Bethune ‘Review of Legislation and Policies Pertinent to Combating Desertification- A Case Study from Namibia’ (2003) 12(2) RECIEL 176-182 1
  • 2. Napcod was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Development (MAWRD). These ministries, along with the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) and Namibia’s Policy Research Unit (Nepru), were responsible for the national programme.4 The process of Napcod was divided into three phases, branching out over a period of 10 years. Phase I (1994) consisted of consultations and a workshop discussed later in this article. Phase II (1995-1999) consisted of the setting up of structures based on eight objectives and the planning of Phase III. Phase III (1999-2003) consisted of the setting up of the structures planned in Phase II. This process led to a detailed assessment by Napcod of the national development policies pertinent to land degradation in 1996. This report- Dewdney Report on Policy Factors and Desertification- Analysis and Proposals- provided an essential break through in identifying the policy framework as one of the root causes of environmental degradation in Namibia.5 To delve further into the national application of the UNCCD in Namibia, it is necessary first to unravel the UNCCD. 2. The Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa 2.1. A Brief Background Desertification is a problem of global proportions. Seventy per cent of the 5.2 billion hectares of drylands used for agriculture around the world are already degraded.6 In all, more than 110 countries have drylands that are potentially at risk.7 The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that desertification costs the world 42 billion dollars a year.8 The human cost is even higher: millions of people 4 ibid 5 R. Dewdney, Policy Factors and Desertification- Analysis and Proposals (Napcod, 1996). 6 Lean (note 1) at 9 7 ibid 8 ibid 2
  • 3. have been driven off their land due to desertification.9 Desertification has played some part in sparking off ten of the armed conflicts currently in progress in arid lands.10 Although desertification has been a problem for countless decades, the first determined international effort to combat desertification began only at the end of the great Sahelian drought and famine of 1968-1974.11 The UN produced the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, a series of guidelines and recommendations, in 1977.12 In practice, this Plan of Action fell far short of expectations.13 For a start neither the governments of the affected states, nor the international aid donors gave it sufficient priority.14 When governments and donors did take action, the effort was often spoiled through lack of coordination.15 The problem continued to get worse. Developing nations, led by African countries, insisted that proper attention should be given to desertification during the preparations for the 1992 Earth Summit.16 After much bargaining17 , the world’s leaders agreed in Agenda 21 to call on the UN General Assembly to set up an Inter-governmental Negotiating Committee to prepare a legally binding instrument by 1994.18 After 13 months of difficult negotiations the convention was finally open for signature in October 1994 in Paris. By May 1995 a total of 105 countries had signed19 and today 191 countries are parties to the convention. 2.2 Objectives and Modalities of the Convention The objective of the Convention is to: combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levels, supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements, in the framework of an integrated approach which is consistent with Agenda 21, with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas.20 9 ibid 10 ibid 11 B Kjellen ‘The Saga of the Convention to Combat Desertification: The Rio/Johannesburg Process and the Global Responsibility for the Drylands’ (2003) 12(2) RECIEL 127 12 Lean (note 1) 13 ibid 14 ibid 15 ibid 16 ibid 17 Kjellen (note 11) 18 Lean (note 1) 19 ibid 20 UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa (Paris, 17 June 1994) Article 2.1 3
  • 4. The underlying motivation behind this objective is to improve the lives of the millions of people who bear the brunt of land degradation and desertification.21 In order to achieve this objective the Parties are guided by Principles set out in Article 3 of the Convention22 which mainly envelope the spirit of international solidarity, partnership, cooperation and coordination among states. The Convention has provisions for General Obligations23 , Obligations of affected country Parties24 , and Obligations of developed country Parties25 . These obligations, in a general manner, encompass the following: • Poverty eradication • Strengthening subregional, regional and international cooperation • Affected countries need to establish strategies and priorities, within the framework of sustainable development plans and/or policies, to combat desertification • Affected countries need to promote awareness and facilitate the participation of local communities, with the support of non-governmental organisations, in efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought • Affected countries need to provide legislation and enact new laws and establish long-term policies and action programmes • Developed countries need to actively support affected countries’ efforts by providing financial resources and appropriate technology and know-how In carrying out their specific obligations pursuant to Article 5 of the Convention, affected countries need to prepare, make public, and implement national action programmes. The purpose of these national action programmes is to identify the factors that contribute to desertification and take practical measures necessary to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought.26 These action programmes are essential for the implementation of the Convention and include, among others:27 21 C Basset & J Talafre ‘Implementing the UNCCD: Towards a recipe for success (2003) 12(2) RECIEL 133 22 note 20 Article 3 23 Article 4 of the UNCCD (note 20) 24 Article 5 of the UNCCD (note 20) 25 Article 6 of the UNCCD (note 20) 26 (note 20) Article 10 27 all these points are taken from the Convention Article 10 (note 20) 4
  • 5. • Incorporating long-term strategies to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought • Giving particular attention to the implementation of preventative measures for lands not yet degraded • Enhance national climatological, meteorological and hydrological capabilities and the means to provide for drought early warning • Promote policies and strengthen institutional which develop cooperation and coordination between the donor community, governments at all levels, local populations and community groups, and facilitate access by local populations to appropriate information and technology • Provide participation at the local, national and regional levels • Provide progress reports on their implementation • Strengthening drought preparedness and management Each country has to develop a national action programme. In addition, cooperation amongst neighbouring and other countries needs to be developed through subregional and regional action programmes.28 The Convention also prioritises and makes provision for supporting the implementation of action programmes29 , information collection, analysis and exchange30 , research and development31 , transfer, acquisition, adaptation and development of technology32 , and capacity building, education and public awareness33 . Financial resources are covered in Article 20 of the Convention.34 Annexes are provided specifically for each continent reflecting the regional implementation of the particular continent or region.35 2.3 Institutions and related Conventions Financial resources are made available by a financial mechanism elaborated in Article 21 of the Convention.36 The Committee on Science and Technology37 is a 28 (note 20) Article 11 29 Article 13 of the UNCCD (note 20) 30 Article 16 of the UNCCD (note 20) 31 Article 17 of the UNCCD (note 20) 32 Article 18 of the UNCCD (note 20) 33 Article 19 of the UNCCD (note 20) 34 note 20 35 Annex 1 is for the regional implementation for Africa, there are 4 Annexes in total (note 23) 36 note 20 37 (note 20) Article 24 5
  • 6. subsidiary body to the Conference of the Parties and provides advice on scientific and technological matters relating to combating desertification. Article 25 provides for networking the institutions, agencies and bodies of the Convention.38 The UNCCD is directly related to the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, these three conventions have unfortunately created competing ways of addressing components of the same problem.39 From an ecosystem perspective, a separation between combating desertification and conservation of biological diversity or adaptation to climate change makes little sense.40 It may be more rewarding if a national action programme included some of the obligations of the CBD and FCCC. 2.4 Compliance and Enforcement As mentioned earlier it remains a problem that Conventions such as the CBD, UNFCCC and the UNCCD do not allow for a more stringent measure of cooperation in fulfilling their objectives as unified projects. This would be a more coordinated approach and would create an easier and more compliant environment for state parties. On a more optimistic note, although the UNCCD does not provide for “punishment” for disobeying states, it has developed such a specific and easily organised system that it seems hard for affected states not to comply. In addition I find it imperative to add that in the affected states desertification has become such a problem that the countries have no choice but to abide to the Convention and its modalities. As I shall elaborate on later in this article, countries like Namibia are so adversely affected by desertification that the need and desire to create a national action programme seems to override the fact that they have to. As for the developed nations it appears more difficult to control. With a few exceptions, developed nation parties often do note prioritise desertification enough and due to this there is often a lack of funding for the affected countries to carry out their national action plans.41 38 note 20 39 Bassett & Talafre (note 21) 40 ibid 41 as seen in the outstanding contributions which total the amount of 7,513,663.30 dollars, see the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION (Status of Contributions to the Core Budget by year as of 28 February 2006) 6
  • 7. 2.5 Local Implementation Although international cooperation is a priority of the Convention, most of the obligations, especially the national action programmes, are to be carried out nationally. To implement successfully the international principles of the UNCCD requires national legislative systems with the capability of recognizing the physical processes of desertification as well as the capability to manage the processes effectively.42 Possibly one of the only desertification laws to be enacted is in the People’s Republic of China in 2001.43 As I will delve into later in this article, Namibia, while having almost flawless legislation relating to desertification has not made the final leap to implement or enforce these laws. Here it becomes apparent that the missing link in the process of desertification in many countries, Namibia included, is political will.44 By looking at Namibia in more detail I will now dissect the implementation and application of the UNCCD from a national point of view. How has Namibia complied with her obligations to the Convention and how far has she come in combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought? 3. Namibia’s Deserts Namibia is the most arid country south of the Sahel and has a variable climate with frequent low rainfalls. Namibia is not alien to ‘disaster droughts’.45 However, the deserts of Namibia are a landmark of pride and scenic beauty. They contribute to natural resources and economic value due to tourism. They harbour unique life forms specifically adapted to this harsh environment. There is also economic potential of sustainable use of medicinal plants.46 Before independence in 1990, Namibia’s land was divided into commercial farmlands. All efforts to improve farming methods and prevent soil erosion were concentrated here. The majority of the population lived on communal farmlands where little attention was paid to conserving the soil and the farming environment. Since independence the focus of government has moved to communal farming land. Namibia’s population is relatively small; however the 42 B Boer & I Hannam ‘Legal Aspects of Sustainable Soils: International & National’ (2003) 12(2) RECIEL 149 43 The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Desert Prevention and Transformation (2001) 44 Basset & Talafre (Note 21) 45 S Bethune ‘Presentation of Namibia’s first national report on the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (2000) Unpublished report to the UNCCD, Bonn 46 12th Napcod Steering Committee Meeting. Wednesday, 16th July 2003. Windhoek, Namibia. 7
  • 8. majority of the population (75-80%) is dependant on the natural resource base subject to the low and variable rainfall. This number of dependants doubles every twenty years, increasing both the pressure on the land and its resources, and increasing the urgency of finding ways to cope.47 Namibia has been directly involved in combating desertification since it prepared its Green Plan48 and participated in the UNCED49 conference in Rio in 1992. In 1994 it initiated Namibia’s Programme to Combat Desertification (Napcod). 4. NAPCOD- Namibia’s Programme to Combat Desertification Napcod’s main objective was to improve the ability of rural communities to manage their land and resources more sustainably, and to lessen their vulnerability to land degradation and drought.50 The Steering Committee of Napcod served as the National Coordinating Body (NCB) of Namibia. Four ministries, the University of Namibia, two farmer’s Unions, and four Non-governmental Organisations were involved. The NCB began its task in 1994 when the Directorate of Environmental Affairs (DEA) of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) contracted the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN), an NGO, to implement Phase I. 4.1 The Napcod Process The Napcod process was organised into three significant phases. Phase I included broad consultation throughout the country and wide participation in a national workshop. The initial objectives of Phase I were: raising awareness, making preliminary assessments of desertification in all 13 regions of Namibia, understanding the economics of desertification in terms of the cost of loss of productivity, developing a shared understanding between rural resource users and technical personal on what desertification is, and planning a programme which was later implemented.51 Governmental and non-governmental participants from a broad 47 Bethune (note 3) 48 Namibia’s Green Plan created in 1992 to draw government, NGO, private sector and communities together to work towards sustainable development. Key issues in the Green Plan were developed into a short, strategic document entitled ‘Namibia’s 12-Point Plan for Integrated and Sustainable Environmental Management’ see 49 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 50 Bethune (note 3) 51 S Bethune & J Pallet ‘Namibia’s second national Report on the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’ Unpublished Report to the UNCCD, Bonn (2002) 8
  • 9. range of sectors attended a National Desertification Workshop at which the programme was elaborated. Phase II (1995-mid 1999) followed eight objectives identified at the National Desertification Workshop in 1994. Those in which broad participation was sought were: to involve key players and stakeholders, to develop integrated planning methods and strategies, to empower communities to implement sustainable resource management, and to improve policy framework for sustainable resource management.52 The National Steering Committee improved collaboration of professionals from different sectors. Phase III was the final phase of the process and was supposed to run from 1999 to 2003 but only ended in mid 2004. Phase III was jointly implemented by MAWRD and DEA (MET) and an NGO consortium of DRFN and Namibia Economic Policy and Research Unit (Nepru).53 The main purpose of Phase III was to ensure that ‘the renewable resources of Namibia are used sustainably by various user groups’54 . Six objectives had been identified for the four year programme, under which the following components arose: • Establishment of a national- and local-level monitoring system to track desertification • Strengthening the capacity of service organisations to implement national resource management • Strengthening the capacity of selected community-based organisations to implement natural resource management • Improvement of policies and framework conditions for sustainable resource management, in other words, update the Dewdney Report55 • Sharing Napcod experiences with sub-regional, SADC, regional and international desertification partners Many successes arose from Phase III of the Napcod process, among which, FIRM (Forum for Integrated Management) and LLM (Local-Level Monitoring) have since 52 ibid 53 Bethune (Note 3) 54 Bethune & Pallet (note 51) 55 Dewdney (Note 5) 9
  • 10. been promoted and established widely. These projects will be discussed in further detail. 4.2Funding Agreements with developed country states were a result of bilateral negotiations with Germany and Finland providing most of the funding as well as several smaller grants, particularly for funding the participation of a broad spectrum of SADC and community participants in the Desertification 2002 Conference Process. Despite this, desertification does not feature prominently in discussions with international developed partners.56 The German Government through the Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) was the main supporter of Napcod through the DEA (MET). The GTZ advisor sat on the National Coordinating Body (NCB) and acted as a full partner of the NCB. A number of other projects and programmes were funded by donors through the DEA (MET), other government ministries, and through NGOs. The funding of Napcod ended with the end of Phase III (July 2004). The current status of a NAP is unclear. After Napcod ended there was a continuation of activities under a Country Pilot Partnership on Sustainable Land Management with support from UNDP/GEF. 4.3Partners and Information Flow Napcod worked with SADC-ELMS through various workshops and the establishment of the Multi-disciplinary Scientific and Technological Committee (MSTCC). Unfortunately the progress of this Committee was compromised due to lack of sufficient funding. Napcod was also directly involved with the Gobabeb Training and Research Centre (GTRC) which was selected by SADC-ELMS as the centre for research and Training, appropriate technology and networking on behalf of the UNCCD of the region.57 4.4Indicators Socio-ecological and biophysical indicators for environmental monitoring (specifically desertification) were established in three sites with differing land tenure 56 Bethune & Pallet (Note 51) 57 Bethune (Note 45) 10
  • 11. and land use practices. All these sites experienced similar climate. Many projects were tested using pilot areas and through this the successes were then practiced across national, sub-regional and regional areas.58 4.5 Results and Products Identification was made of the actual and potential key players related to land degradation at a national level. Public awareness was high priority and was successful due to widespread broadcasting. Newsletters, radio programmes, press releases and other media outputs were used to inform and educate the general public regarding the causes and effects of desertification. Integrated planning strategies at all levels were addressed in Phase II. The studies and research done on the cause, effect and eradication of desertification was successfully documented. The greatest enemy in drylands is vulnerability.59 Drought occurs frequently and the gains of several good years can be wiped out by a series of dry seasons. People are then unable to accumulate assets and are consigned to poverty.60 One of the measures taken within the framework of NAPs was to help communities become less vulnerable to droughts. This was done by empowering the communities to take the initiative to better manage their land and resources. This included activities ranging from marketing of livestock and other products to crafts and other enterprises.61 As far as education and training in the field of desertification and land management goes, appropriate training and education was provided according to needs at all levels. Natural resource users empowered to plan and implement sustainable management practices in an integrated and decentralised manner was a major objective of Phase II. Identification and implementation of incentives to change human activities and support sustainable natural resource management were made. By the end of the Napcod process, there were a large number of projects that had been successful most of which were directly or indirectly related to the UNCCD. 62 Three Napcod products were instrumental in Namibia’s Third National Report on the implementation of the UNCCD63 , of which two, FIRM and LLM, will be discussed in detail below. 58 ibid 59 P Dobie ‘A future for the drylands?’ (2003) 12(2) RECIEL 140 60 ibid 61 J Pallet & S Bethune ‘Namibia’s third national report on the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’ (2004) Unpublished report to the UNCCD, Bonn 62 ibid 63 ibid 11
  • 12. i)Local Level Monitoring (LLM) LLM is a tool for better decision-making based on monitoring of biophysical indicators that farmers themselves have identified.64 It consists of five indicators; livestock conditions, rangeland condition, rainfall, bush density and carrying capacity. The monitoring consists of farmers themselves filling in prepared tables and graphs using field guides. It involves the application of technical and scientific skills by communities. The monitoring procedures are worked out in cooperation with relevant service providers but the monitoring itself is undertaken by the farmers. An evaluation was done by Napcod in three pilot areas on the impact of the LLM and the FIRM approach in the first half of 2004. Unless the information gathered is used in decision- making, LLM has no value. LLM has made farmers more conscious about marking livestock and selling animals on a regular basis, using bank accounts rather than herds of livestock as security. ii) Forum for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM) The successful implementation of both combating desertification and managing resources sustainably is largely dependent on communities in rural areas. Therefore an integrated approach to resource management is essential. The Forum for Integrated Resource Management is a system driven by local communities in which service organisations (SOs), NGOs and donors integrate their activities amongst each other and with the needs and capabilities of the communities. The FIRM approach has been most successfully implemented by the Grootberg Farmers Association and the #Khoadi//Hoas Conservancy in the northwest of Namibia. Meetings are called in which the needs of the community are identified and the actions of the SOs and the community personnel and the money from community enterprises together with that of donors are coordinated.65 Napcod and other FIRM partners have assisted the Farmer’s Association and the Conservancy with institutional strengthening, operational planning, a goat breeding programme, establishment of water points and 64 ibid 65 Bethune & Pallet (Note 51) 12
  • 13. vegetable gardens, tourism development initiatives, activities of the women’s group, game counts, a livestock survey and assessment of rangeland condition.66 Essentially the FIRM approach tackles problems of sustainable resource management from the viewpoint of the community, and finds ways to implement solutions that are practical and that have the full involvement of the community members.67 Through FIRM the community is able to request and receive support to develop their management plan, and community members are trained to ultimately take over and develop and manage the plans on their own.68 FIRM has had major achievements which guaranteed its wider use. It has developed greater sense of ownership over development agendas by communities. It has improved the capacity to identify development priorities and solicit support. It has provided mechanisms to monitor and assess the process and the impact of development.69 Both the FIRM approach and LLM have since been widely adopted, an example being the Desert Margins Programme that encompasses nine African countries in an arc ranging from Senegal down to Namibia. 4.6 Policy Framework In 1995 Napcod established a policy-working group to focus on policy revision. This was the first step in keeping Article 5 of the UNCCD.70 The Dewdney Report was written and involved research into policy framework relevant to desertification in Namibia. One of the outcomes of the policy review process was the contribution of Napcod towards a drought strategy for Namibia. The Directorate of Environmental Affairs of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has elaborated Namibia’s Policy to Combat Desertification (1994), Namibia’s Assessment Policy (1995), and the Draft Environmental Management Act (1999). Many principles of the UNCCD are included in these policies and acts.71 Many policies in Namibia, while formulated and approved by parliament, are not implemented, strategies to support their implementation have not been elaborated and they are not backed by legislation or regulations.72 A national strategy to harmonize policies, plans and legislation important to combating 66 ibid 67 ibid 68 Pallet & Bethune (Note 61) 69 ibid 70 ‘ to provide an enabling environment by strengthening, as appropriate, relevant existing legislation and, where they do not exist, enacting new laws and establishing long-term policies and action programmes’ UNCCD (Paris, 17 June 1994) Article 5 71 Bethune (Note 45) 72 ibid 13
  • 14. desertification should be developed.73 The report was instrumental in the forming of the Drought Policy and Strategy (1997) that is only starting to be implemented now by the MAWRD. Despite exhaustive efforts of Napcod as well as direct influence on the forming of many acts and policies, by the end of the Napcod process in 2004 some bills and policies were still not enacted. There was also very little commitment on ground to law enforcement. There is a Policy on Desertification coordinated by the DEA but it has still not come into effect. 4.7 Challenges Napcod had a few shortcomings which it recognised itself in its reports to the UNCCD and tried to improve. The lack of a consistent monitoring system for self- evaluation of the Napcod process was pointed out by the GTZ. Through out the ten years there was a lack of recognition that many government activities did in fact contribute towards combating desertification (without necessarily being aware of it). There was a need to ensuring user rights over communal rangeland resources similar to those available for wildlife, water and forestry resources. The slow process of enacting policies and acts is a handicap that Namibia, as a country, needs to address. 4.7 Successes The strong government/NGO collaboration was an important and successful characteristic of Napcod. Broad and effective participation, especially at community level, was a great success of the Napcod process. The Steering Committee comprised people from diverse backgrounds, and benefited from the spread of ideas and priorities that these people brought to meetings.74 The concepts and approaches discussed in Napcod were spread widely into other organisations. Community empowerment to manage rangeland and livestock resources sustainably, which equates to being flexible and adaptive to variable rainfall has been very successful.75 LLM has been used extensively by community-level farmers. The FIRM is now accepted as a useful way for communities to address land degradation issues on 73 Bethune (Note 3) 74 Bethune & Pallet (Note 51) 75 ibid 14
  • 15. communal land plan integrated and effective activities76 and has subsequently been adapted in many other countries in Africa. 5. Conclusion Although Napcod was not formally recognised as a NAP, it enjoyed much support from government, NGOs, the private sector, the community, and the UNCCD. Namibia was too far ahead and already in the implementation phase by the time she ratified the UNCCD. Thus Napcod was a country-specific project that, despite a few shortcomings, enjoyed great success. The major focus of Napcod was to ensure the real participation by local populations and local authorities in decision-making concerning natural resources. Capacity building was also particularly important for Namibia as human resources available were limited and was a great priority for Napcod. Namibia’s Programme to Combat Desertification had many good projects and programmes that have been widely accepted since it ended Phase III in 2004. Unfortunately, although Napcod was instrumental in the forming of many policies and acts regarding combating desertification, especially the very good Drought Policy, most of these, although accepted by parliament, are not implemented and enforced and thus have no real value. Desertification is still often seen as merely an ‘environmental’ issue that does not deserve high priority.77 Its role in directly influencing people’s lives is not fully understood or appreciated. Lack of sufficient funding has always been a challenge and also the reason why the plan for a Phase IV under the Napcod process was aborted. The Napcod approach has since been integrated into a Country Pilot Partnership that is being formed using a coordinated umbrella as Napcod did. This Partnership is being funded by the GEF and the World Bank through the UNDP. It is never the less necessary to formalise the new approach to the NAP so that the momentum built up during Napcod is not lost. Pen ultimately, I find it imperative to add that the Napcod process has had great success and enjoyed international recognition for its achievements, as confirmed by the UNCCD General Secretary, His Excellency Hama A Diallo, in September 2004: 76 ibid 77 Pallet & Bethune (Note 61) 15
  • 16. ‘Namibia had made commendable efforts in the management of its natural resources at community, as well as national level. This is what the UNCCD and its partners, UNDP, UNEP, FAO, African Development Bank and World Bank wanted to see. Namibia’s experiences are quite useful to all its neighbours.’ 78 It could be said that Namibia and its NAP is a success story for the UNCCD. And in parting words on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification it is important to realise, although there are many who argue that the Convention is idealistic and needs to adjust its course79 , it remains a powerful Convention, which if taken seriously, could become a saviour of lives. It is also important to mention that the Convention was landed by Africa and will always have a special significance for Africa.80 And ultimately, that the Convention is an instrument of fundamentals: it has very concrete objectives and deals with elements basic to human beings for thousands of years: sun, water, sand, people, food.81 It is the responsibility of the entire international community to combat unacceptable conditions for the more than one billion people who live in the vast drylands of this planet.82 78 ibid 79 Basset & Talafre (Note 21) 80 Kjellen (Note 11) 81 Kjellen (note 11) 82 ibid 16