It has been 23 years since the NACSO concept was conceived. According to NACSO Constitution, the aim of the association, which is made up of several NGO members “is to promote, support and further the development of community-based approaches to the wise and sustainable management of natural resources, thereby striving to advance rural development and livelihoods, to promote biodiversity conservation and to empower communities through capacity building and good governance, to determine their own long-term destinies.”
The accomplishments made by NACSO so far are immense and cannot be overstated. Some of them were highlighted in the Chairperson’s report which was presented at the Annual General Meeting that took place on 1st August in the NACSO boardroom. Heads of member organisations were presented with a summary of progress from some of the decisions that were made at the previous AGM by the NACSO Chairperson, Ronny Dempers. He went on to outline some of the achievements of NACSO and CBNRM.
NACSO Strategic Plan 2016-2021
NACSO continues to implement major strategies within its NACSO Strategic Plan. This year, the annual NACSO retreat was held in Windhoek to review the Strategic Plan and adapt it according to the challenges faced in the year.
The number of NACSO members has not grown since. We had two applications, but they did not meet the criteria. However, we have seen quite an interest from government agencies and line Ministries to work with NACSO to address rural development issues. In 2018 we were also invited to attend and contribute to major policy changes and amendments through several government institutions. The Ministry of Higher Education, and Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, including the Ministry of Rural Development to mention just three.
The NACSO Secretariat continues to play a vital role and is invited to high level meetings, such as the one on Path Ways, which is an international gathering of expertise in the field of academic research on environmental and wildlife issues. The NACSO Director, Maxi Louis was one of the main speakers.
Strengthening the partnership between NACSO and WWF
The past months have seen a renewed engagement between WWF and NACSO leadership at a strategic level. There is a welcome realisation from both sides that at the current level which Namibian CBNRM has grown to, with the associated funding challenges, there is a need for maintaining regular dialogue between WWF and NACSO.
The working groups are seen as a central mechanism for NACSO members and the MET to coordinate, build capacity of their staff members, and to incubate innovative ideas.
The Institutional Development Working Group (IDWG) has recently seen a major boost through funding obtained through WWF Sweden, SiDA, the Band Foundation and the GIZ MET CBNRM project, and revitalisation with the appointment of a full time Coordinator. The IDWG has been able to provide more support and coordination pertaining to governance issues at a national level.
We recommended that the Natural Resources Working Group (NRWG) should be reviewed and restructured. The NACSO Management Committee appointed a task force to facilitate the process, a clear TOR draft strategy was developed. However, the Executive Committee decided to table a motion at the last AGM to have NNF host the NRWG. The working group has finalised the hosting process, which went very well. We want to thank NNF and the NRWG team, especially Greg Stuart Hill and his team for making sure that the NRWG has a secure home.
The Business Enterprise and Livelihood Working Group (BELWG) continues to play an important role in the programme to make sure that enabling environments are created within the CBNRM programme, and conservancies that have income and are diversified. The BELWG programme together with WWF, has started to implement a creative programme called Wildlife Credits, which is being piloted in several conservancies.
Regional conservancy associations
NACSO believes that regional conservancy associations can play a pivotal role in advocacy for groups of conservancies; it is also a voice for conservancies in addressing challenges that conservancies are facing. NACSO facilitated two trainings for three regions run by NDT. The regions included the Erongo Conservancy Association, Kunene South and Otjozondjupa regional associations.
CBNRM exchange visits
NACSO, together with the MET facilitated three exchange visits in 2018. There were two exchange visits from Mozambique: One from the Mozambican CBNRM Network and another one from the Gorongoza National Park in Mozambique. Both visits were facilitated by MET, NACSO and IRDNC.
The third visit was from Uganda, including the Ministry of Environment and Antiques and several parliamentarians, and staff from the Ministry and parastatals in Uganda. The groups also visited Zambezi region, and were fortunate to have dinner with our Minister of Education and several Permanent Secretaries from different line Ministries. It was commendable how Ministers supported CBNRM.
The need for a CBNRM stock taking process
At a meeting initiated by the IDWG, the need for a national CBNRM stock taking process was identified, and since then there has been a growing momentum and consensus that there is a need for a robust and an honest reflection after almost more than 20 years of CBNRM implementation in Namibia. We, as NACSO members, should not take a backseat, but whilst providing space for objective and critical reflection, we should take ownership of the process. I would also like to suggest that we consider regional CBNRM stock taking processes as a preparatory run up towards a national CBNRM stock taking process. Every region is unique, and the regional processes should highlight the unique characteristics of each region.
Sensing revival within the forestry sector
Fellow CBNRM practitioners, I am also sensing a renewed energy and interest especially in the forestry sector. The Directorate of Forestry has recently hosted a workshop that explored the feasibility of financing mechanisms for services for community forests. The NILALEG project is also becoming a reality and we may soon see its implementation thereof. Some work has also been done to host a national conference slated for 2-3 October on a sustainable bio-economy value chain for Namibia with a focus on forests and fisheries resources. Key organisers are NNF, Hans Siedel Foundation, NUST and others.
I am certainly encouraged by the momentum within the forestry sector and will urge the NACSO members and individuals to collectively position ourselves in playing a more meaningful role. We as NACSO may also need to consider a more proactive engagement strategy with the Directorate of Forestry.
The Community Conservation Fund of Namibia (CCFN) has finally arrived
The CCFN has finally been set up. Ceremonies and presentations hosted recently by the CEO of this body have confirmed that CCFN has finally been established in Namibia. Most of you have worked over the years towards its realisation and we are certainly happy about its arrival. As NACSO, we need to engage with this structure to ensure that it fulfils the vision for which it was established.
As I come towards the end, allow me to highlight some challenges:
- The main challenge of the CBNRM programme continues to be its growth with insufficient support resources, both financial and human.
- The role of CBNRM in the current drought.
- Human-Wildlife Conflict and Human-Human Conflict around natural resources such as water and grazing.
- CBNRM constantly put under pressure to demonstrate if it can create more jobs, more income etc.
These are some of the highlights of the journey we have travelled. Allow me to express our gratitude towards our Secretariat for the dedication and commitment towards the NACSO member organisations and institutions, including all staff from NGOs, MET, UNAM and others that continue to raise the CBNRM banner. To our partners, the MET and WWF in particular that continue to walk with us this path. To you all, your contribution is what has made this programme and NACSO as an institution to be what it is today.
I thank you all.