by Arlana Shikongo
THE Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) faces reduced funding contributions from its international sources as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The EIF mobilised funding, mostly from international institutions, as our domestic sources of funding are not expanded yet,” minister of environment Pohamba Shifeta said last week.
He was responding to questions from the media after the inauguration of the fund’s new board of directors.
Shifeta said the countries which usually contribute funds to the institution are also struggling with their economies due to Covid-19, thus directing their attention towards their own domestic organisations.
“There is still funding coming in and the mechanisms are still moving, but it’s not at a level we thought it would be at this time,” he said.
EIF chief executive officer Benedict Libanda said the fund has so far identified three main risk areas: operational, liquidity and market risks.
“From an operation point of view, the pandemic disrupted our implementation of activities, and we were not ready for that.
“How we coordinate and facilitate implementation of our programmes and projects, how we link with our communities and beneficiaries, and our communication with our stakeholders have been disrupted,” Libanda said.
The fund’s resource mobilisation has been reduced by 30%, he said.
“We receive income from environmental taxes, but because of the pandemic those taxes have been reduced dramatically,” he said.
Furthermore, Libanda said with slow implementation of programmes, the financial disbursements from the fund’s financiers, such as the Green Climate Fund, are delayed.
He said this also affects the EIF’s financial flow.
Libanda said the fund is taking into consideration some of its projects financed through concessional loans.
“The capability of those borrowers to repay the loans has been affected,” he said.
The fund is putting together a strategy and action plan to mitigate these risks, which will be tabled to the fund’s board soon, Libanda said.
Taking note of the projects and programmes directed towards conservancies, environment ministry executive director Teofilus Nghitila said support mechanisms have been initiated to cushion these effects.
“Our tourism is nature-based and largely based on wildlife. Without tourists, the industry is affected [and] without trophy hunters we have so little in terms of income generation for our conservancies.
“Most establishments are running at zero in terms of visitors. Our conservancies have been negatively affected – campsites have no visitors, concessions have no clients,” Nghitila said.
In May, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and other stakeholders initiated a conservation relief, recovery and resilience facility aimed at providing emergency funding to conservancies to mitigate the blow of the pandemic.
Last week, the ministry announced the facility has thus far raised N$22 million, which is being disbursed to the 80 communal conservancies which signed the ministry’s emergency grant agreements.
“We’ve disembarked three months’ funding, which already started going to the conservancies to support them,” Nghitila said.
He said the ministry is operating in phases and will mobilise more resources as much as they can.