National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)
Despite the small size of the country, Eswatini is topographically and climatically very diverse. This diversity of environmental conditions supports a correspondingly high biological diversity.
In 2002 a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) has been compiled with the primary objective to prevent the erosion of Eswatini”s biodiversity.
NBSAP does not stand alone but forms part of the Eswatini Environment Action Plan (EEAP). Eswatini supports a diverse assemblage of habitats which are home to a wide range of organisms.
Although the information base on Eswatini”s biodiversity is still incomplete, survey work has shown that a significant portion of southern Africa”s plant and animal species occur here. The eastern region of Eswatini, for example, forms part of the Maputaland Centre of Plant Diversity (one of the World”s “hotspots” of floral, as well as faunal, species richness and endemism), while the western region falls within another area of global significance, the Drakensberg Escarpment Endemic Bird Area.
The value of Eswatini”s biodiversity has long been recognised by Swazis who make use of it on a daily basis for various reasons including: traditional medicine, food, building material, traditional attire. Traditional systems of conserving biodiversity also exist but have not been documented and are currently being eroded.
The International Convention on Biodiversity (Article 2) defines biodiversity as “the variability amongst living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part”. Put more simply, biodiversity is the variety of plants, animals and other life forms, the genetic material they contain and the ecosystems which they form. Biodiversity can be seen as three distinct components which includes:
Genetic diversity: the genetic variations within a species, that usually results from environmental selection pressure or from genetic mutations in reproductive cells. Genetic variations can result in distinct populations within the same species, often resulting from the diversity of habitats which are occupied by a single species.
Species diversity: the variety of different species which have emerged from evolutionary processes. The processes which generate genetic variation also create species, except the magnitude of differences is larger that in the case of species. When two organisms” genetic material differs to the extent that they are unable to produce fertile off-spring, then they may be considered different species.
Ecosystem diversity: the different communities of plant and animal species that create the numerous habitats in Eswatini. The various combinations of different plant and animals species create different ecosystems as the various organisms interact with each other and the physical environment (minerals, water and climate) around them.
To address the issues of the growing waste management problem, a National Solid Waste Management Strategy (NSWMS)was compiled by the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Communication in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including government at all levels, business and industry, as well as non-governmental organisations.
The national Solid Waste Management Strategy for Swaziland represents a long term plan (up to 2012) for addressing key issues, needs and problems experienced with waste management in Swaziland. The strategy attempts to give effect to the National Environmental Policy, National Environmental Management Act and the Waste Regulations 2000. The focus of the strategy is to move towards a holistic approach in waste management, in line with internationally accepted principles but taking into account the specific context of Swaziland regarding the institutional and legal framework as well as geographical and resource constraints. Integrated waste management thus represents a move away from waste management through impact management and remediation to a proactive management system which focus on waste prevention and minimisation.
This National Solid Waste Management Strategy (NSWMS) for Swaziland sets out the following vision for the Kingdom:
“to develop, implement and maintain an integrated waste management system that will reduce the adverse impact of all forms of solid waste, so that social and economic development in Swaziland, the health of it”s people and the quality of it”s environment and it”s resources benefit.”
The development of the NSWMS was preceded by various other processes eg. the National Development Strategy (NDS-September 1997), the Swaziland Environmental Action Plan (SEAP- August 1997), a Draft Environmental Bill (which has been passed into law in December 2002) and the Swaziland Waste Regulations 2000 made pursuant to the Swaziland Environment Act 15/1992. The need for a NSWMS for Swaziland was already identified in the SEAP as a priority area. Based on this identified need a project was launched by the SEA in close cooperation with the Danish Co-operation for Environment and Development (DANCED) who provided the funding for the project. The project was established to assist the SEA with the development and implementation of a NSWMS.
The rationale and justification behind proposing a National Solid Waste Management Strategy for Swaziland were many. The Kingdom of Swaziland needed an integrated waste management strategy to address the identified needs and problems and that puts emphasis on both urban and rural areas. A clean environment means reduced public health problems as well as reduced ground and water pollution.
Critical aspects that were taken into account during the strategy formulation process were the existing institutional and legal framework regarding waste management. The National Environmental Policy, National Environmental Bill as well as the Waste Regulations 2000 has been used as a legal framework. A concerted effort was also made to allocate waste responsibilities in the strategy within the existing responsibility framework of government. Key to the success of the implementation of the waste management strategy would be whether government and other stakeholders could actually provide the necessary resources and cooperation needed for implementation.