Communities in Muduva Nyangana and George Mukoya Conservancies and Community Forests were graced with newly constructed Conservancy offices Dosa and Livayi villages respectively. The new solar powered conservancy offices were officially inaugurated in March 2017. The N$ 3.2 million offices were financed by the German government, and the building process was facilitated by the GIZ-MET Biodiversity Management and Climate Change (BMCC) Project.
The project has been supporting the two Conservancies and Community Forests since its inception in 2013 and will continue to do so with its successor project the Support to Community based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Project (2017 – 2019). The project’s overall objective is to support the Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in the coherent implementation of the CBNRM policy on all levels (national, regional and local). Geographically, the project’s support covers all of Namibia but with respect to the regional and local level, the project will focus its’ support to selected Conservancies in Kavango, North Central and Kunene Regions.
The target group of the Support to CBNRM Project is the rural population of Namibia living in and around Conservancies and integrated Community Forests.
Muduva Nyangana and George Mukoya were gazetted as a Communal Conservancies according to the Nature Conservation Amendment Act (1998) in 2005 and as Community Forest according to the Forest Act (Act No. 12 of 2001) in 2013 respectively. The two communities therefore have rights over forests and other natural resources, wildlife and tourism, including grazing rights and rights to conduct their own fire management. Since their gazettement, the two Conservancies and Community Forests have been managing and using their wildlife resources sustainably under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).
The two Conservancies and Community Forests are located in the utmost north-east of Namibia, very close to the Caprivi strip and east of the city of Rundu. They neighbour each other, George Mukoya Conservancy bordering Muduva Nyangana on the western edge and both touching the northern border of Khaudum National Park.
The N$3.2 million solar powered offices were officially inaugurated by the MET Deputy Minister, Hon. Tommy Nambahu and His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Schlaga. The event was organized by MET in collaboration with GIZ. It was coordinated in such a way that a ceremony occurred at each of the two aforementioned villages, with the Dosa hosting the main ceremony. Main speakers at the event were the German Ambassador, the MET Deputy Minister, as well as the Hompa of the Gciriku Traditional Authority. The official inauguration also included the handing over of the office keys.
Giving the welcoming remarks at Dosa, Hompa Kassian Shiyambi urged the communities of the George Mukoya Conservancy at Dosa and the Muduva Nyangana Conservancy at Livayi to use the offices for the purpose they were constructed for. “We must take care of the offices,” Shiyambi said through an interpreter during the event. The chief also shared his concern about human-wildlife conflict in the area, where elephants often destroy crops and threaten the lives of the estimated 300 residents of the two Conservancies.
Following the Hompa, German Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga said it is good to see communities taking conservation into their own hands. “We see all the efforts to reconcile human needs, the needs for animals, as well as the need to create an income under the context of conservancy,” said the Ambassador. He mentioned issues such as human-wildlife conflicts and poaching, which result in the depletion of natural resources, and have long term negative effects”. Moreover, the German Ambassador said he was impressed when he learned about the concept of community conservancies which addresses all conservancy issues in a holistic manner. Schlaga also commended the idea of introducing tourism to local conservancies as this would add to their income.
The MET Deputy Minister Tommy Nambahu, in his keynote address, warned that Conservancies will be deregistered if they do not comply with conservation regulations, like game management planning, conducting annual general meetings and preparing annual financial reports.
Nambahu underlined that Conservancies are recognised, but not governed, by the MET. The Deputy Minister further stated that Community Forests also create and sustain employment just like Conservancies. However, unlike Conservancies whose members are only those registered under such institutions, Community Forests offer membership to everyone in the area, giving them members’ rights, he said. “Community Forest management is guided by the principles of sustainable management, not to deplete but to maintain and improve the resource base while sharing benefits amongst all local residents”. With Community Forestry, the local community play a significant role in forest management and land use. They are empowered to take responsibility and to become actively involved in the management of the forests, thereby increasing the value and benefits derived from these resources for everyone, he pointed out.
Nambahu also applauded the two Communities for taking their roles seriously, as he gave example of the annual fire management campaign by the communities, which helps to control forest fires.
Community Forest committees also control grazing and natural resource extraction rights in forest areas. The committees issue permits based on annual monitoring and also control grazing in forest areas.
During the ceremonies at Dosa, the audience were also treated to an electrifying cultural performance and a drama based on the journey of these two Conservancies.
The event was attended by about 500 participants: Conservancy members, MET and representatives of other line ministries, representatives of various Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), as well as members of the media.