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ELN – Earthlife Namibia

Earthlife Namibia (ELN) is a branch of Earthlife Africa, a non-profit organisation, founded in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1988 that seeks a better life for all people without exploiting other people or degrading their environment. ELN was founded in Windhoek in 1990 after the Independence of the South African apartheid regime. Its aim is to encourage and support individuals, businesses and industries to reduce pollution, minimise waste and protect Namibia’s natural resources.  Earthlife is a largely volunteer-driven organisation, however, in recent years, funding has been acquired by some branches to staff and facilitate specific campaigns. ELN has been leading several environmental campaigns in Namibia. One of the most well known has been the ongoing campaign to gain compensation for environmental damage caused by Ramatex, a textile factory that opened in 1990 that has left dangerous chemical waste in the outskirts of Windhoek.  More recently, ELN has lead a campaign against the expansion of uranium mining in protected areas of the Namib Naukluft National Park. ELN has brought attention to the health and environmental impacts of this type of mining, warning of the accumulated effects if several more mines are opened in the area. ELN has been the only environmental NGO in Namibia to show some public concern on this issue. Earthlife will mainly work with CRIIRAD and other partners in Work Package 3 examining the impacts of uranium mining in Namibia from a community perspective.

Bertchen Kochs. Chairperson of Earthlife Namibia, has challenged government and industry on controversial projects including the Epupa Hydro-Electric Scheme on the Kunene River, the Ramatex clothing factory in Katutura, and the current development of a new uranium mine in the Namib-Naukluft Park. She studied food science in Braunschweig, and began her working life in a pharmaceutical company, but soon moved into scientific research at the Veterinary University in Hannover, followed by cancer research in Amsterdam. She first came to Namibia from Germany in 1973 to work for the government veterinary services.

Hilma Shinondola Mote. Director of Labour Resources and Research Institute (LARRI). She has worked extensively in many labor related issues such as the Basic Income Grant and domestic workers rights. In recent years with the rise of uranium mining in Namibia she has been denouncing the health impact on uranium mine workers and has become recently the head of the African Uranium Alliance.