NUST is the lead applicant and coordinator of SCIONA, in partnership with the Angolan Instituto Superior de Ciências de Educação da Huíla (ISCED). A multi-disciplinary team from the two institutions will research and develop technological tools to support government and community conservation in managing and monitoring the Northern-Namib Desert ecosystem.
Her Excellency Jana Hybášková, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Namibia, encouraged the researchers working on the project to engage with the local communities in the Kunene Region, saying that these are the key stakeholders in ensuring the success of the initiative.
The Iona – Skeleton Coast area is one of several recently established transboundary areas in southern Africa. It is situated in the northern Namib with its endemic fauna and flora and contains the Kunene River Delta, which is the second most species-rich coastal wetland in Namibia.
Honourable Pohamba Shifeta, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, applauded the project saying that the Namibian Constitution obliges government to actively promote and maintain the welfare of people by adopting policies aimed at the maintenance of ecosystems to the benefit of all Namibians.
Conservation continues to face many challenges and threats, including anthropogenic disturbances like illegal mining, overfishing and poaching of our iconic endangered desert Black Rhino. This is especially due to the remoteness, inaccessibility and vastness of the area, covering approximately 44 000 km2.
“We are confident that through this project, Namibia’s community-led conservation model can be replicated in neighbouring Angolan communities to benefit from the improved biodiversity, which transboundary conservation will bring,” remarked Dr Tjama Tjivikua, the NUST Vice-Chancellor.