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Director of ceremonies- 

Honourable James Uerikua, Governor for Otjozondjupa Region 

Honorable Councilor of Okakarara Constituency: Honorable Abdal Mutjavikua; 

The Executive Director of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Mr. Theofilius Nghitila; 

Chairperson of Ozonahi Conservancy 

Traditional Authorities 

Heads and staff members of the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism 

Staff members of the EIF, 

Distinguished community members of Ozonahi Conservancy and beneficiaries of this grant

Members of the media 

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me immense pleasure to be officiating the handover of Ozonahi Conservancy project which has been successfully implemented under the CBNRM EDA’s Grants facility. 

Bush encroachment threatens natural habitats for animals and plants of the savannah ecosystem. Local bushes, such as black thorn (Senegalia mellifera), are spreading massively at the expense of grass vegetation especially in Otjozondjupa Region. In Namibia today, about 45 million hectares of agricultural land is infested with encroached bushes destroying the arable land and reducing its productivity. 

Bush encroachment leads to land degradation mostly in semiarid to arid regions. This is a worrisome fact as nearly 70% of the Namibian population depends on agricultural activities and the livestock industry is the mainstay with high contribution to the GDP in the farming industry. This project stands to reduce the burden of bush encroachment as well as generating much needed income and animal feed production, enhancing sustainable development in the region. 

The intervention witnessed today, is a clear manifestation of local level empowerment as well as enterprise development through a bush to feed mechanism in Ozonahi Conservancy. The project demonstrates the Conservancy’s unity, commitment and hard work and is a living-proof of local level transformation towards increasing resilience of these communities living in the CBNRM area for climate change adaptation. 

Ladies, and gentlemen, 

It’s noted that areas affected by bush encroachment, wildlife animal populations are declining, such as certain antelope species, zebras and cheetahs, already threatened with extinction. The challenge of bush encroachment is also affecting wildlife tourism in the country. The tourism industry contributes about 15% to our GDP and this signify its importance to the national economy. As such the ministry will continues to support the de-bushing and bush to feed program in the country. 

Furthermore, the decline in agricultural productive due to bush encroachment is estimated at around two-thirds in the last 40 years. Although Namibia's agricultural sector contributes only 3-5% of the country's GDP, it accounts for the by far largest share of jobs in the country. 

I am therefore delighted to inform you that the handover of the Bush to Feed to the Ozonahi Conservancy has come at an opportune time, a time when CBNRM communities are adopting to diversify livelihoods options in the face of severe climatic challenges. 

I am grateful to note that this intervention with the involvement of the key stakeholders will serve to provide the much need income as well as providing fodder to the severely affected livestock owners in the region and beyond. 

Ladies and gentlemen; 

The National Policy on Climate Change aims to contribute to the attainment of sustainable development in line with Namibia's Vision 2030, through strengthening of national capacities to reduce climate change risk and build resilience for any climate change induced shocks. The Government of the Republic of Namibia leaves to protect the environment and its natural resources, with Article 95 of our Constitution providing for the protection of the ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia. 

I am thrilled to inform you that today I will be handing over, Bush harvesting equipment’s inclusive of four Chainsaws and accessories, four Brush cutters and accessories, four Kalahari Chippers on trailers , One Agri Mixer Machine, one Pellet Machine, one John Deere Tractor with trailer as well as a storage facility. The project has managed to establish the 4 mobile units at 4 selected villages within the Ozonahi Conservancy area and recruited 20 community members to work as harvesters at these mobile units while an additional 5 are employed at the office to mix and package finished bush feed. 

In my conclusion, let me emphasize to our farming communities that small farmers have the potential to contribute significantly to national food security as well as national economic growth of this country. It is in our best interest to foster conservation of our natural resources through community based natural resource management system as established by the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Ozonahi Conservancy and their supporting entity for a successful implementation of this project. I wish you the best as you continue with the implementation of this project. 

I thank you!!