Lush foliage near the Kwando river in Mashi conservancy surrounded the campsite where the Zambezi Bi-annual Conservancy meeting took place from 8 to 10 February 2017. Various ministries, four traditional authorities, NGOs, members from the 15 conservancies and the Kyaramacan Association in the region, and representatives from neighbouring countries were among the stakeholders that attended the meeting.
The bi-annuals are an information sharing, networking and learning platform, where NGOs, ministries and other CBNRM partners share information on ongoing projects with the conservancies, which made presentations on their achievements over the past six months, financial reports, challenges, plans for the future, and shared ideas on how to manage natural resources.
Bi-annual meetings are also an opportunity to discuss transboundary issues with neighbouring countries Botswana and Zambia. A representative from the Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust (CECT) in Botswana, Mr Kamwi Masule, was present and keen to learn more about Namibian conservancies. The Trust supports the sustainable management of the Chobe enclave’s natural resources for the benefit of the local community. It also educates and empowers community members to utilise their resources in a sustainable way.
Salambala conservancy, which is situated opposite Botswana’s Chobe National Park, signed a memorandum with CECT to jointly and sustainably manage the shared natural resources between the two countries. The Trust plans on signing a memorandum with Bamunu conservancy which borders Botswana to the south.
The forum was an eye opener for Masule and the CECT. They were interested in the systems Namibian conservancies in Zambezi region are implementing that the Trust would like to implement, such as, human-wildlife conflict compensation, Devil’s claw harvesting and direct benefits to communities. He was impressed by the involvement and back up of the traditional authority and Regional Councillor, Hon. Beaven Munali, who brings feedback to communities on deliberations in the council.
The main concern and challenge in most conservancies was increased wildlife crime in the region. These meetings highlight such important issues and are essential to conservancies facing the same challenges. The different conservancies share ideas on how to tackle issues, learn from each other about better financial management and how to improve livelihoods in their areas.
The next bi-annual meeting will take place in Bwabwata National Park, hosted by the Kyaramacan Association, which is a legal entity representing all the people living inside the park, in July 2017.