On the 8th of September 2018, staff members at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) gave a warm welcome to the Otjozondupa Regional Conservancy and Community Forest Association (ORCCFA) representatives at the centre for a three day workshop. The meeting was organised by NACSO, with the aim of strengthening the association’s governance.
This was one of a series of workshops that started last year to enhance conservancy and community forest governance. The association consist of the following communal conservancies: Ozonahi, Ovitoto, Otjituuo, African Wild Dogs, Okamatapati, Nyae-Nyae, N#a- Jagna and Ondjou conservancy.
Advocacy and lobbying are some of the skills that were introduced to the regional association representatives. These are crucial to sharpen their organisational skills, to be able to communicate collectively and effectively to relevant institutions at all levels. In order to develop a plan of action, a SWOT analysis was carried out to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by conservancies and community forests.
The facilitator Sima Luipert, consultant to the Namibia Development Trust (NDT), helped the representatives to draw up a historical timeline of activities and events that took place since the inception of their conservancies and community forests. She suggested this would help them to reflect on their conservancy and community forests’ status and that of the association.
The Regional association represents conservancies at the national level. And just as any other association, members are required to meet as stipulated in their constitution, to discuss common matters and share ideas. Up to now these meetings did not take place, due to the lack of communication, attributed to long distances between the conservancies.
Without further delay, a decision was made by the representatives to split the association into two, with the western conservancies on one side, while the eastern conservancies on the other side, namely Nyae-Nyae, N#a-Jagna and Ondjou. The time could not have been better to deal with this threat, as raised by the SWOT analysis. The representatives could finally put their newly learned skills at work and write a letter to other stakeholders to officially inform them about their decision.
The Association is now better equipped to represent their communities. On behalf of the representatives, the Chairperson of the N#a-Jagna conservancy, Sara Zungu, thanked NACSO, NDT and the CCF for a successful workshop and advised conservancies to continue working together with the government, support NGOs and other conservancies.