This is the year when the Namibia Development Trust celebrates 30 years of strengthening organisations in rural communities. As the NDT looks back on its past, it also looks forward to the future. This month NACSO is advertising for young graduates to join its Conservation Leadership Programme. In this article, an ex-CLP graduate and NDT Programme Officer talks about his work and the Conservation Leadership Programme: footprints from the past to the future.
On 19 March the NDT office in Windhoek West played host to its founding trustees, its board, to Professor Mburumba Kerina as guest of honour and to Bishop Dumeni. In line with its mission, the NDT was joined by rural women who sang; and the Director of Ceremonies was a young conservation professional – a Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) graduate.
Helping out was Mekondjo Hitila, who joined NACSO in 2016 as a CLP intern and was seconded to the NDT. For the past few months he has been based in Zambezi Region assisting on the Sustainable Community Partnership, funded by WWF. This partnership funds students in communal conservancies to study through NAMCOL to improve their examination grades, so they can go on to study for diplomas or degrees.
The hope is that some of them will return to their rural communities as champions of conservation. Some may even follow Mekondjo’s route and become CLP interns and graduates. Two graduates are now working with the NDT. Others are working with NACSO’s Natural Resources Working Group and with WWF. Two went on to study abroad, one of whom is working in climate science and another is back from her studies and is now heading NACSO’s Institutional Development Working Group.
The CLP has launched several successful careers in conservation, and graduates are encouraged to go to the ‘Opportunities’ page on the NACSO web site to see how to apply.
NACSO is a coalition of partners in conservation. This is very much the philosophy of the Namibia Development Trust: “Partnerships make us strong and enable us to work and learn together,” says its Director Ronny Dempers. The NDT works throughout Namibia, assisting in the organisational development of 16 communal conservancies, 11 community forests and 20 cooperatives. All of these Community Based Organisations (CBOs) work to enable local communities to develop constitutions and rules, in order to combat poverty and underdevelopment in a transparent way.
CBOs, with assistance from the NDT and other NACSO members, help to develop local leaders, which is why Mekondjo enjoyed working in Zambezi Region to give young people a chance to develop their skill, increase their knowledge and capacity, and to go on to study.
The history of the NDT has been in promoting women’s empowerment and amplifying the voices of women, in improving agricultural productivity, fighting for justice in trade, and promoting a rights-based approach to development. As it celebrates 30 years of development work, its footprints point to a future that young people can follow.