Hage Geingob Campus: Driving Sustainability with 4 Electric Vehicles

Beyond nurturing graduates in diverse health-related disciplines, schools can greatly contribute to a country in numerous ways. The Hage Geingob campus, home to the Faculty of Health Sciences & Veterinary Medicine, has recently launched the “Green Initiative” programme, a global commitment to environmental responsibility.

The faculty’s investment in electric vehicles stems from a shared responsibility to protect the environment and cut back on carbon emissions for future generations. These vehicles, powered by electricity from batteries and rechargeable from external sources, are a pivotal step towards sustainability.

According to Professor Judith Hall, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences & Veterinary Medicine, the decision to introduce electric vehicles was driven by a commitment to reduce the campus’s environmental footprint. Professor Hall stated, “I felt it was our duty as a campus and a faculty to take responsibility. When I arrived here, I noticed that UNAM relied solely on petrol automobiles, and there was a lack of green initiatives.”

Taking action on sustainability

While the Vice Chancellor and Pro-Vice Chancellor: Admin & Finance recognised UNAM’s strategic responsibility for global footprints, little external support has been generated thus far. Hage Geingob Campus initiated environmental activities to put the vision of senior UNAM staff into practice.

The faculty procured the electric vehicles from a Namibian supplier to support health and veterinary outreach programmes between Hage Geingob Campus, Main Campus, and Neudamm Campus. Funding was made possible using some funding leftover from the Welsh Government that had sponsored oxygen provision systems in Namibia and funds from Cardiff University obtained through its Vice-Chancellor.

Apart from benefits to staff and patients, electric vehicles have resulted in cost savings for the campus. Professor Hall emphasized, “These vehicles are reducing our carbon footprint and cutting costs that were previously allocated for petrol and diesel, making us an environmentally responsible campus.”

A broader vision

In the coming months, the green effort is expected to expand beyond electric vehicles. Initiatives will include reducing air conditioning and power consumption, minimising paper usage, adopting online software, and launching recycling projects.

Ms Jennie Lates, Head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice & Policy and a driving force behind the project, highlighted the campus’s efforts in planting indigenous trees and removing invasive species. She added: “We also have in place File-13 Paper Recycling Bins procured from Rent-a-Drum, a Varta Battery collection bin from Vision Sales & Marketing as well as a Green wheelie bin donated by NamiGreen.”

Appointing a green champion

To ensure the project’s success, Professor Hall appointed a “Green Champion” responsible for overseeing its implementation and progress.

The Green Champion, who prefers to remain anonymous, shared their motivation: “I was very happy when the Executive Dean announced the Green campaign and decided to volunteer. It bothered me to see litter on the road to our campus and the absence of a recycling culture on campus. If I can change one student or staff member’s perspective on recycling, I would be satisfied. Change has a ripple effect, like a pebble in water.”

The Green Champion is currently enrolled in the “Environmental Awareness and Responsibility” module with the University of South Africa, which has opened their eyes to the importance of environmental issues. They acknowledged that their environmental footprint is higher than they would like, partly due to societal infrastructure and services.

Despite the challenges, the Green Champion expressed optimism, saying, “Societal change may seem daunting, but there is always hope.”

The grand launch

The Green Initiative was officially launched on 31 August 2023, at the Hage Geingob Campus, with several partners including Recycle Forum Namibia, Rent-a-Drum, Vision Sales & Marketing, and Namigreen. The campus has already acquired 4 electric vehicles and aspires to become a Net Zero Campus, with ambitions to inspire all 12 UNAM campuses to go green!”

Original story by Suama Shingenge. Suama is a final-year media intern student at the University of Namibia.

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