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metadata, use, and management thereof. The Web page contains over 500 metadata records from various agencies involved in data collection and usage.

The Environmental Information System unit has developed a metadata standard that sets out minimum requirements for metadata to be included in the National Metadata Directory. The standardized metadata design is for use by data custodians to create, store, and distribute core metadata elements. The standard, which conforms to Federal Geographic Data Committee standards, has been widely adopted and used in the creation of metadata by various agencies. The Environmental Information System unit plans to ensure that the metadata standards comply with standards set for both the South African Development Community and the International Organization for Standardization’s Technical Committee.

The Environmental Information System unit has also created and registered a metadata clearinghouse node for Namibia at the global Metadata Clearinghouse, where metadata can be searched and viewed at the international level.5 The global clearinghouse activity, which is sponsored by the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee, is a decentralized system of servers accessible through the Internet that contain field-level descriptions of available digital spatial data. This clearinghouse allows individual agencies, consortia, or geographically defined communities to band together and promote their available data.

Over the past 19 months the Environmental Information System unit has made efforts to systematize and consolidate the resources in the different directorates’ libraries. In November 2002 the Environmental Information System unit officially launched the Ministerial Resource Center, well known as the MET Resource Center, with the mission to “provide environmental related information to the Namibian nation at large, especially the scientific community and students.”

A database has been created combining the resources from the Directorate of Environmental Affairs, the Directorate of Forestry, and the Etosha Ecological Institute in Okaukeujo. This database is being maintained and updated regularly by the main center at Environmental Affairs. It is available for viewing and information searches on the Resource Center Web page on the ministry’s Web site.6

Our Web site is rich in information. Research discussion papers, policy, and legislation are also provided as downloadable files. Descriptions and contact details for ongoing projects in the ministry are also available, as well as links to other natural resource sites and a variety of geographic and textual resource data.

Worthwhile mentioning is the good working relationships that government agencies have with local NGOs. Not only are the government and its institutions providing data, but NGOs and private companies are also making data available on the Internet.7 In the Environmental Monitoring and Indicator Network the NGOs and private companies are also well engaged, and some are members.

The information is available on national and local levels. There are local people working on the ground who are quite involved from the very beginning of the projects. They assist with the data collection. Once the data are captured into geographic information system environments, the maps are returned to the local participants for verification of the information. So the data reach the localities, and are not only at the national level.

Currently we do not sell the data. All data are distributed free of charge. Only a few government institutions have cost recovery mechanisms for providing the data. It is unique to Namibia that their NGOs and the government work so closely together; the government commissions them to produce data and the data come back to the government free of charge. So, in a way, sharing of the data is natural.

The success of this initiative involves political support, as well as coordination and cooperation. Initially there was no single body or individual responsible for creating or establishing infrastructure in Namibia. Making it work required collaboration and the production of a Web site, which hosts all of the environmental data.

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