Early in March 2019, NACSO and partner organisation, the Namibia Nature Foundation hosted a group of government officials from Nepal, who came to learn about CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resources Management) in Namibia and specifically to understand the approach adopted by Namibia to encourage community-based tourism.
This visit came just one month after Nepal held a conference to exchange and explore different models of sustainable and inclusive tourism in protected areas. At the conference, Teofelus Ntinda from the Namibia Development Trust represented NACSO as a coalition of organisations that supports community conservation in Namibia.
The goal of the study tour from Nepal was to expose delegates to the Namibian model of sustainable and inclusive tourism. Key areas of interest were the development of tourism in protected areas such as national parks and public/private investment in these tourism ventures. The role of government and conservation NGOs in planning tourism joint ventures was of major interest.
After an induction meeting at the NACSO office in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, the visitors from Nepal were accompanied by NACSO Director, Maxi Louis, on a 3 day field visit to some of the conservancies in Zambezi Region.
They were welcomed by Mashi and Salambala Conservancy members, advisors, members of the traditional authorities and the conservancy game guards. The Chairperson of the conservancy gave an overview of governance structures, natural resource management and tourism related activities, and emphasised the importance of benefit distribution to conservancy members. The conservancies also explained how they develop and utilise management plans, including zonation of land uses for wildlife, grazing for livestock, photographic tourism and hunting.
While in Windhoek, two of the delegates gave an insight into CBNRM and tourism attractions in Nepal. It was clear from their presentations that tourism services offered by each country differs due to the countries’ cultural backgrounds and physical features. Nepal is mostly characterised by mountains, hills and glaciers, in contrast with Namibia’s mostly arid and semi-arid flat lands. However, one thing is the same in both countries, the desire to promote initiatives that promote sustainable community-based tourism.
During the visit, the Nepalese group also met with representatives of a private sector lodge, which has invested in joint venture tourism operations with the conservancy. The delegates learned about the relationship between conservancies and private sector tour operators, defined as tourism joint ventures (JV). Information was shared with the group about the guidelines used to set up agreements, especially concerning the decision making process for paying fees to the conservancy as part of the lodge’s responsibilities. The Nepalese participants said that they would like to learn more about the joint-venture investment model.
Sharing experiences enables countries with diverse landscapes and communities to learn from each other’s successes and to adapt them to their own situations. CBNRM is not meant to replace existing land uses or livelihood activities in communal areas, but rather to provide additional economic opportunities.