N$2.5m Unam lab to speed up research

Otis Daniels_Finck
Windhoek ∙ Ellanie Smit

A laboratory established at the University of Namibia (Unam) will assist the environment ministry to develop comprehensive baseline maps and provide faster feedback and results on research conducted.

The Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) Unit Wet Laboratory has been established at Unam to the cost of N$2.55 million.

The university brought in equipment such as drones, servers and back-up drivers which will be utilised by PhD students. The laboratory only has a capacity for 12 people, with 10 PhD students - who were recently awarded bursaries by the ministry through the Namibia Integrated Landscape Approach for Enhancing Livelihoods and Environmental Governance to Eradicate Poverty (NILALEG) project - will take up their spaces at the new facility.

Speaking at the inauguration of the laboratory, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said it was made possible by the signing of an agreement between the ministry, Unam and the NILALEG project.

It aims to build on existing land-cover mapping, forest inventory, agro-ecological zones and integrated regional land-use plan data to develop comprehensive baseline maps to be used for integrated MEAs, spatial monitoring and reporting systems.

“This laboratory will help us report on the various commitments we have made under the three Rio Conventions and will also trigger quick feedback of results on all the research conducted and will help reduce the costs and waiting [time] for results, as was the initial case where various samples had to be sent to South Africa.”

Working together

Shifeta said MEAs have never been as important, with the global community working together to tackle pressing challenges such as climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.

According to him, Namibia is playing its part in the process and has set highly ambitious targets - not only relating to greenhouse gas emission reductions but also to deforestation, biodiversity loss and land degradation.

United Nations Development Programme resident representative to Namibia, Alka Bhati, said the lab is expected to bring change in way government sectors and spheres coordinate with each other to meet international environmental obligations and achieve a streamlined method for assessing and reporting on where hectares of productive land, globally important biodiversity and forest and woodland as carbon sink have been protected and restored, or degraded and lost.