WOW! Namibia Takes Stock – ATWS 2013July 17, 2014
Namibia Conservancies – Important Conservation ToolJuly 18, 2014
By Jana-Mari Smith
The annual meeting of the conservancy Chairperson Forum this week took place under the banner of “Conservancies Against Poaching and Weak Governance”.
The tagline was a recognition of the challenges faced by many of Namibia’s 79 conservancies (soon to be 81, with the Gazetting in August of the Lusese and Nakabolelwa conservancies”.
According to Maxi Louis, Director of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO), while many achievements have been added to the conservancy programme during the past year, several challenges remain. Chief amongst these challenges is the escalation of poaching in Namibia, governance of conservancies and human wildlife conflict.
Governance issues include the financial management at conservancies, including issues with bookkeeping. Louis emphasised that “poaching is the big one. Poaching has become a major, major challenge” but she emphasised that responsibility of dealing with poaching is a “national issue” and does not rest on the shoulders of conservancies alone.
On the positive side, Louis says a review of the conservancy programme has also identified major successes and positive steps within the programme.
The “major achievements” include
- The Gift to the Earth award (Namibia’s second), honouring the country’s work towards community game guards who look after wildlife
- In 2013, the CBNRM policty was launched, a strategic document that emphasises conservancy management strategies
- Additional concessions were signed, leading to a milestone of 88% of concessions present in Namibia’s 79 conservancies
- An active Conservancy Chairperson Forum
- To date, under the Conservancy programme, 90% of communal land is now under conservation status
- More women are actively participating in the management of conservancies and 2014 saw the first gender empowerment workshop for women from conservancies
- 42 audits have been completed. Louis said that “some were really good, some not so perfect. But it is a good start”.
- Natural Resource management through an annual game count from the Ministry of Environment of Tourism on conservancies is a “one of the biggest achievements”.
- Formal recognition of community game guards through the game guard accreditation programme. Louis said that with the issue of poaching, the role of game guards is vital and thus “to get them motivated we need to recognise them for the work they do”.
- International events such as the ATWS saw a strenghtening of the relationships between goverment, private sector and NGO’s
- A first during the past year has been establishing contact with the Development Bank, in order to negotiate loan facilities for conservancies “so that you have access to money like any other tourism enterprise”.