WINDHOEK, June 5 (Xinhua) — Namibia is scaling up its land restoration programs to build drought resilience, and fight desertification, and land degradation, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) revealed Wednesday.

This comes as the country joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Environment Day on June 5, under the theme of “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience.”

Namibia, which recently declared a state of emergency due to drought, has initiated a research and training program to enhance the production of drought-resistant plants and trees in the most drought-stricken areas of the country.

In an interview with Xinhua, Minister of MEFT Pohamba Shifeta said that the land restoration programs are mostly being scaled up in the rural areas where livelihood depends on the land.

He said the ministry is working with the communities in drought resilience programs such as sustainable forestry harvest activities to ensure that their livelihoods are not severely affected by drought and climate change.

Shifeta also noted that the country has already banned the exportation of non-finished or semi-finished forestry products to promote sustainable harvest and the processing of forestry products.

Furthermore, the country’s policy framework, through the MEFT, is accelerating the reforestation program by producing drought-resistant seedlings that are then distributed across communities in different regions.

Shifeta emphasized the importance of utilizing nurseries across the country to produce seedlings for communities, particularly in rural areas, as well as in urban settings like schools and institutions.

He called for an acceleration of this program to ensure millions of seedlings are available annually. Given Namibia’s arid climate, he stressed the significance of planting drought-resistant trees, aiming for an 85 percent survival rate with these seedlings compared to the typical 50 percent due to water scarcity.