Wildlife and communities – Back from the brinkJuly 15, 2012
A holistic approach to fisheries management – Fishing is not just about catching fishJuly 15, 2012
by Luke Sweeney, MET NNF ODI Fellow
Since its inception, the key aim of the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) has been to support the work of the Namibian Government regarding wildlife conservation, natural resource management and rural livelihoods development. In doing so, this support initially focused on the work of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), through fund management and programme support. Over the years it has expanded to collaborative partnerships with most ministries in Namibia.
The relationship with the MET has been vital for the growth of the NNF. We are proud of the valuable role we have played in the successful completion of a large number of important programmes.
Providing support in managing funds was perhaps the key raison d’être for the NNF back in the early 1990s, and the range of funds managed on behalf of the MET (and others) over the history of the NNF is vast, with a huge A-to-Z range of project types – from managing funds for aircraft to do aerial monitoring to fund management for mountain-zebra observation.
The range of donors to the MET whose funds the NNF has managed is extensive, varying from international organisations such as the UNEP and UNDP, and national development sponsors such as USAID, to other NGOs such as the WWF and local companies like Rössing Uranium.
Independent fund management is often a requirement of many donors of programme support, and this is a service the NNF has been able to develop and provide.
Given the many obvious bene-fits from these MET programmes, the NNF’s role as fund manager provides us with a great sense of achievement.
The NNF has also provided valuable programme support to the MET, examples of which include the the Southern African Elephant Survey and Monitoring Programme (ELESMAP) project and Country Pilot Partnership (CPP) programmes. These are just two of many that highlight the partnership and diversity of the relationship.
ELESMAP was a project managed by the NNF in the mid-1990s. It was funded by the European Union, participating governments represented by the MET in Namibia, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The central aim of the project was to carry out a census of elephant populations in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Malawi, while also providing valuable secondary information regarding elephant range and distribution.
The census was a considerable logistical challenge, given the elephants’ contiguous range of around 300 000 square kilometres, the variety of landscape types, the different population densities of ele-phants in each country, and the variety of aerial sampling designs needed to be developed/adapted. Through its complexity, the programme encouraged the development of local capacities with regards to census design and data analysis. This development of monitoring capabilities and the data provided have enabled regional cooperation on the management of elephant populations, providing the foundation for conservation of this important threatened species.
Country Pilot Partnership
The NNF has been integral in the development and rolling out of Namibia’s CPP Integrated Sustainable Land Management (ISLM) Programme, which operates across eleven regions in the country and to which the NNF has been provi-ding field support to pilot projects in the Erongo, Kavango and Caprivi regions.
Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the programme is aimed at piloting a wide range of practical initiatives in local communities, from the introduction of conservation agriculture to the development of small-scale aquaculture, to help assess their viability as livelihood diversification strategies. Such diversification is vital in the face of unpredictable weather, desertification and the potential for climate change to impact on current livelihoods.
A key aspect of the programme has been the direct involvement of local communities from day one, with inception meetings and planning based on community wants and needs – a true visioning exercise. The NNF has been one of the organisations that has been instrumental in ‘bottom-up’ community involvement through its support in regional offices, and in so doing has sought to ensure the sustainability of project sites into the future, when donor support may not be available. Whilst some pilot projects have been a success, others have been less so. However, the nature of the programme has been to test these approaches to provide future assistance to the MET and other key partners in the support given to local communities, and developing diversified livelihood options across Namibia.
Since 2005, in addition to the relationship forged through fund management and programme support, the MET and NNF have jointly hosted Fellows from the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI). On request this highly regarded international programme provides postgraduate economists to partner countries across the world, with the joint aims of providing and developing technical economics capacity and giving practical experience to the individual Fellow.
The programme is funded jointly by the recipient country and the ODI, making this a unique form of technical support that has been practised successfully in over 40 countries since the 1960s and in Namibia since the early 1990s.
Based part-time within the Environmental Economics Unit at the Directorate of Environmental Affairs and part-time at the NNF, with the NNF providing the requisite financial support, successive ODI Fellows have been able to provide key economics assistance to both institutions. So far four Fellows have carried out their Fellowship at both institutions (for a period of two years each). Indeed, the joint nature of this Fellowship post is in itself unique amongst the 100 or so international Fellowship posts, further demonstra-ting the cooperative relationship between the institutions.
Support into the future
The NNF will continue to strive to support Government through the important work it carries out with regards to the environment and sustainable development. By continually impro-ving this support, we hope that we can continue playing a valuable role in linking high-level Government initiatives with local communities on the ground, and in so doing make a positive impact on local living standards across the country.
This article appeared in the 2012 edition of Conservation and the Environment in Namibia.