Bremen and the city of Windhoek, Namibia are enjoying a long-standing friendship. Over the past several years, the partnership for sustainability has engaged in a number of initiatives to raise awareness of environmental issues and protect natural resources. A major focus has been the disposal of used oil in “backyard” car repair shops.
In Windhoek’s townships, informal auto service businesses represent significant opportunities for income generation and job creation, especially for unskilled and semi-skilled workers. However, these businesses cause serious environmental damage through practices like the illegal disposal of used oil and solvents and the uncontrolled dispersal of chemicals from spray painting. The resulting pollution of surface water harms the health of local residents and could contaminate the reservoirs Windhoek depends on for drinking water. Regional water scarcity makes it especially urgent to combat this problem.
In 2008 Bremen supported a study on this issue, followed by a workshop in 2010 aimed at sensitising auto mechanics to environmental concerns. Through Engagement Global’s Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW), we were able to acquire further project resources within the framework of the Municipal Partnerships for Sustainability programme (NaKoPa). This support enabled us to set up a demonstration site in a community garage, conduct more workshops, and raise awareness of the need to monitor wastewater quality. The pilot project was carried out from 2014 to 2016 in cooperation with the Bremen office of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Bremen University of Applied Sciences, Department of Urban Water Management. An associated ASA Municipal exchange in 2015 and 2016 sent two Windhoek students to Bremen, and two Bremen students to Windhoek.