Herman Aindongo, a Conservation Leadership Programme intern from 2017, shares his experience at the Kunene south conservancy audits.
“Ever since my first field trip with NACSO, I have always looked forward to the next, not just because I like travelling but because every trip has been a unique and interesting experience. The people, the landscape, and everything else is just different. This year, my first field excursion has been to Kunene south. We visited eight conservancies, namely: /Audi, !Khoro !Goreb, //Huab, Doro !Nawas, Sorri-Sorris, Uibasen-Twyfelfontein, Torra and last but not least ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy. Our mission was to carry out the annual conservancy audits in these conservancies.
These annual audits are crucial to the existence of the Namibian CBNRM programme. The audits comprise of two parts, the event book audit through the natural resource management questionnaire as well as the governance and institutional audit using a separate questionnaire. The Event Book section involves adding up all the data collected and recorded by the game guards in their event books over the past year into a monthly monitoring chart book. The governance and institutional audit is done using a questionnaire with questions relating to conservancy governance, usually answered by the conservancy management committee. For me, this was an introduction to something I have never done before and I found it to be a very important activity within the CBNRM sector. The audits are a vantage point for all stakeholders involved in this programme for crucial decision-making, reflection, and long-term planning..
Aside from the actual work, being part of the audit has allowed me to meet new people in the conservancies that we visited. These are people with different backgrounds and tasks in their conservancies, from conservancy managers to the humble game guards. I use the word humble because that is really the impression I always get from them. I have come to respect them for the work they do under the circumstances in which they carry out their tasks. The game guards are the true guardians of the environment in their respective areas. Through casual interactions with several conservancy members, I get hope for improved livelihoods and conservation of the environment from the passion and enthusiasm shown by these people because I believe they can be the agents of change needed to make things better. I also had the chance to appreciate the team-work shown by our team and recognise that everyone of us counts and the importance of being part of a team. The Kunene south audit team comprised of two MET staff (Kaagwana Ambambi, CBNRM warden and Fanna Mundia, ranger), one WWF staff (Raymond Peters), two NACSO interns (Matthew Walters and myself, Herman Aindongo) and three NNF staff (Andrew Malherbe, Clemens Naomab and Rosalia Iileka). The presence of senior staff such as Raymond and Andrew was beneficial for me in learning more about the CBNRM programme and building my confidence in engaging with the conservancy members.
Overall, I am looking forward to seeing our conservancies improve with the support of the NGOs and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to be the agents of change in their respective areas and be an inspiration around the world."