Coastal conservation gets a WB grant

Namibia's efforts to conserve its 1,600 km of coastline received a US $4.9 million boost from the World Bank (WB) this week.

The five-year Namibian Coast Conservation and Management (NACOMA) project, launched this year, is expected to cost a total of $28.7 million. The WB grant, made available through its Global Environment Facility (GEF), will be spent on strengthening conservation efforts and improving the sustainability of biodiversity in coastal ecosystems.

According to the WB, growing economic development and human activity along the coast are attracting unprecedented migration, bringing uncontrolled urban development and a resultant abuse of freshwater resources in their wake, while rising marine pollution industrial has been recorded.

NACOMA is expected to help increase the size and number of coastal, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, which are vital to maintaining biodiversity. "It will improve incomes derived from, and the economic value of, ecosystems, as well as foster the incorporation of environmental/biodiversity-related aspects into main sector policies, plans and investments affecting the management of the coast," the WB said in a statement on Thursday.

The hyperarid Namibian coastal ecosystem is home to a significant array of biological and ecological diversity, including uniquely adapted plants and animals, rich estuarine fauna, and a large variety of migratory and wading birds, as well as seabirds. The coast is home to numerous desert species: the `Succulent Karoo' area of the southern coast, for example, has a greater diversity than any other desert in the world.

Namibia's coast is also an important source of economic development: it accommodates a rapidly growing nature-based tourism industry, an expanding extractive industry, and a strong commercial fishing industry with growing aquaculture.

The project will be executed by the ministry of environment and tourism, in collaboration with other relevant ministries and the coastal regional councils and local authorities.