The Gobabeb Research and Training Centre is an internationally recognized center for dry land training and research. It is located in Namibia in the Namib Desert, 120 km by road south-east of Walvis Bay at the site of an abandoned Topnaar community called !Nomabeb, which means place of the figtree.
Gobabeb’s vision is to be a catalyst for gathering, disseminating and implementing understanding of arid environments.
Gobabeb was founded by the Southern African Museums Association with strong backing of Austrian entomologist Dr Charles Koch in 1962. Since 1998 Gobabeb has been a joint Venture between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Desert Research Foundation Namibia (DRFN). Gobabeb conducts research in a wide variety of fields ranging from archaeology and anthropology to climate and ecology in its broadest sense to geology, geomorphology and desert conservation and restoration. Further it tests, demonstrates and promotes Appropriate Technologies. By conducting training courses Gobabeb aims to improve the public awareness and knowledge of dry land ecology and environmental issues. The station consists of permanent researchers, students, and interns, as well as short time visitors such as researchers, school and university groups, and tourists. Gobabeb also hosts film crews, journalists and artists.
Each year, Gobabeb hosts over one thousand students from across Namibia and around the world to take part in learning in the Namib Desert. Programmes range from day trips where primary school learners learn about living sustainably in arid landscapes to our five month long Gobabeb Training and Research Internship Programme (GTRIP) which brings together university students to develop and implement their own full-scale research projects.
Gobabeb's location at the intersection of three contrasting ecosystems (the gravel plains to the north, the Namib Sand Sea to the south, and ephemeral Kuiseb River bisecting the two) provides a unique opportunity for guided learning about our natural environment. Training staff use hands-on learning and inquiry-based projects designed to promote scientific inquiry, understanding of desert ecology, and an enhanced awareness of environmental challenges. The Centre works to align programmes with school curricula and provide practical experience with information the students learn in the classroom. The staff specifically tailors courses to the needs and interests of each group.
Gobabeb’s curriculum focuses on three areas: sustainability and appropriate technology, desert ecology and environmental science, and critical thinking and scientific inquiry.
The Centre is also a demonstration site for hybrid energy, water recycling systems and sensitive environmental impact practices. Internships and training courses are offered to tertiary-level Namibians and international post-graduates, who focus on the application of theory to environmental problem-solving for sustainable development. At school level an 'outdoor classroom' offers scholars practical field experience and knowledge about arid ecosystems, with simultaneous exposure to sustainable living techniques. The goal is to facilitate the understanding of environmental concepts by Namibian learners, with the purpose of promoting ecologically sustainable development.
Since its founding, Gobabeb has focused on producing high quality collaborative research and on supporting the efforts of scientists from southern Africa and around the world.
Research at Gobabeb is conducted both in pursuit of greater scientific understanding and in promoting environmental education and sustainable management. Work done by researchers at Gobabeb is adapted into the Centre’s Training Programme, providing dynamic and relevant content for students and learners to engage in. Through various training programmes at all levels of education Gobabeb hopes to use science to inform and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders and decision makers.
We focus on facilitating and supporting scientific activities in a number of themes, each headed by a well-known and high-profile scientist in that specific field. Active themes include Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Dune Morphology, Botanical Sciences, Long-term Ecological Research, Conservation Physiology, Microbiology and Fungi, Welwitschia (a theme focused on the iconic Namib Desert plant Welwitschia mirabilis), Restoration Ecology, and Water in Arid Environments. We support thematic research by providing technical assistance and lab facilities, facilitating permit applications, maintaining (and/or supplying) equipment, and providing access to our unparalleled knowledge centre. Every year Post-doctoral, PhD, MSc, BTech, and other degree candidates from southern Africa and all over the world come to conduct field research at Gobabeb in one or more of these themes, or in related topics of their own choice. Gobabeb also offers local thesis supervision to selected Namibian and foreign students each year. Overall, more than 80 PhD and MSc projects have been completed at Gobabeb. Gobabeb partners with a wide array of institutions located within Namibia and across the globe.