Adapting to Climate Change through the Improvement of Traditional Crops and Livestock Farming Systems in Namibia


Namibia is one of the most arid countries south of the Sahara, characterized by high climatic variability in the form of persistent droughts, unpredictable and variable rainfall patterns, variability in temperatures and scarcity of water. As part of the Country Pilot Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Land Management (CPP), this project is piloting a host of interventions to address the underlying causes of land degradation in Namibia.

The goal of the CPP has been to combat land degradation and promote environmental sustainability through integrated approaches. In support of this, project activities should be based on assessments conducted prior to project implementation. The project has reinforced the importance of integrating operational programmes within ministries, community projects, and regional offices.

Project Details

The Initial National Communication (2002) classified Namibia as highly vulnerable to the predicted effects of climate change. Expected climate change impacts will most significantly affect water availability and natural resource management. Water scarcity poses negative consequences for agriculture, power generation, infrastructure, tourism, and human health. Changing patterns and intensity of rainfall are likely to also increase the rate of soil erosion, affecting crop production and livestock. In response this project aims at enhancing the adaptive capacities of farmers, pastoralists and natural resource managers to climate change in agricultural and pastoral systems in north-central Namibia.

Approximately 70% of the Namibian population lives in rural areas, with 60% concentrated in the seven northern regions.  Climatic variability is a common phenomenon in Namibia, exhibited by persistent droughts, and unpredictable and variable rainfall and temperatures. Degradation and desertification are increasingly a threat to agricultural productivity. The IPCC Third Assessment Report and other recent studies suggest that by 2050 temperatures and rainfall over southern Africa will be 2 – 4°C higher and 10 – 20% less than the 1961-90 baseline, respectively. Additionally, the rural economy is also held back by low demand for domestic products, high transport costs and competition with South African products.

Due to the effects of worsening climatic conditions on long-term agricultural productivity, the adaptive capacities of farmers, pastoralists, and natural resource managers need to be strengthened. Coping strategies for climate change need to be enhanced at the local, regional, and national levels. Addressing adaptation to climate change is a national priority in Namibia’s Initial National Communication (INC) since a high proportion of Namibia’s population is directly dependent on subsistence agriculture; fishery, tourism and agriculture form the basis of the country’s economy. Unfortunately, land degradation – soil erosion, bush encroachment and deforestation - is becoming progressively worse in most parts of the country.

Land degradation – soil erosion, bush encroachment and deforestation - is becoming progressively worse in most parts of the country. This leads to vegetation degradation and loss of soil fertility which affects agricultural productivity. There are two main types of land degradation in North-Central Namibia, the selected pilot region for the project: (i) vegetation degradation which includes rangeland degradation, deforestation, and degradation of woodlands; (ii) soil degradation which includes soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. Climate change is an additional stress super-imposed on this trend.

Expected climate change impacts include declines in water availability and increasing temperatures due to higher evapotranspiration and changing rainfall patterns. This, in turn, will affect water resources within the Cuvelai-Etosha Basin, forests, and other natural ecological systems as well as agriculture, power generation, infrastructure, tourism, and human health. This is likely to increase competition for water, which could lead to loss of natural vegetation. Changing patterns and intensity of rainfall are likely to increase the rate of soil erosion, affecting crop production and livestock. An increased incidence and severity of extreme weather events, such as flooding, which will worsen soil erosion and destroy crops. Climate change will affect the agricultural yield directly through changes in temperature and precipitation, and indirectly through changes in soil quality, pests, and diseases. Flash floods are further predicted to impact overall sanitation and human health conditions.

Signature Programmes: 
Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Households, Farmers, Communities and CBO (women, children, orphans etc). Farming and pastoralist communities in North-Central Namibia.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Namibia Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry
Namibia Ministry of Lands and Resettlement
Namibia Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development
Namibia National Planning Commission
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project Status: 
Financing Amount: 
GEF (SPA): US$960,000; Total GEF Grant: US$1,000,000
Co-Financing Total: 
Co-financing: US$5,795,806.00; TOTAL: US$6,795,806.00

Key Results and Outputs

Outcome 1 - Climate change adaptation measures of rural communities in agricultural production piloted and tested.    

  • Output 1.1 - Coping mechanisms upscaled in each constituency as follows: Anamulenge – (5), Elim – (4), Etayi – (5), Ogongo – (4), Okahao – (5), Okalongo – (5), Onesi –  (5), Oshikuku – (5), Otamanzi- (4), Outapi – (5), Ruacana – (5), Tsandi – (5)
  • Output 1.2 - 300 farmers trained to adopt improved rangeland management practices.

Outcome 2 - Improved information flows on climate change including variability (such as drought) between providers and key users.     

  • Output 2.1 - 2 Agricultural Extension Officers (AEOs) and 20 Agricultural Extension Technicians (AETs) trained in upscaling coping mechanisms in each constituency.
  • Output 2.2 - 20% improvement in the uptake & utility of weather forecasts and related decision-making support tools.

Outcome 3 - Climate change issues integrated into planning processes.

  • Output 3.1 - 12 Constituency & 1 Regional CCA strategies developed.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Project monitoring and evaluation will be conducted in accordance with established UNDP and GEF procedures and will be provided by the project team and the UNDP Country Office (UNDP-CO) with support from UNDP/GEF.


Martha Mwandingi
Assistant Resident Representative/ Head: Namibia- Energy & Environment UNDP
Jessica Troni
Regional Technical Advisor