In July, Namibia Development Trust (NDT) hosted a meeting at the Pastoral Centre in Keetmanshoop. Representatives from the southern conservancies - Huibes, Oskop, !Gawachab, !Khob !Naub, //Gamaseb and !Han/Awab, and staff from various conservation support organisations such as Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations, Namibia Nature Foundation, Ministry of Environment Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT), NAMPARKS and Oana Community Trust met to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the conservancies and review progress on the Southern Regional Conservancy Association.
The representatives from the six conservancies reflected on their achievements, challenges, and annual workplans, which led to discussions of identifying methods to scale up institutional governance, natural resources management and developing an action plan for supporting the southern conservancies in the future.
The workshop was mainly attended by women and the youth, a good sign of progress in gender representation in community development and interest in conservation issues. This was recognised by the MEFT Deputy Director for the southern regions, Harry Tjikununna, who pointed out that he was pleased to see that the number of women in leadership roles had increased in conservancies. He quoted the Ovambanderu Traditional leader Aletha Nguvauva “where men are managing, things get destroyed, where women are leading, things get build”.
He also emphasised on the significance of expanding government intervention in community resources conservation through proper planning and holistic collaborative effort from the conservancy, the government, and the NGOs. He reassured the participants that the ministry is committed to supporting conservation through capacity building in technical aspects with a particular focus on income generation. “We need to start somewhere, and I believe that, that somewhere is here. I hope that this workshop is not just like any other meeting. Let us start planning for the near future by honing development agendas such as employment and shaping better livelihood”, said Harry Tjikununna.
The //Karas Regional Council which was also present at the meeting envisage an improvement in the livelihoods of people through the CBNRM programme. The Director of Development and Planning from the Regional Council, Sima Luipert, who recently joined the directorate and has extensive experience in Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme, indicated that as the main custodian for general development in the region, assessments will soon be made on ways to support the programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) and supporting NGOs.
The MEFT CBNRM Wardern, Mbutjiua reported that all the conservancies complied with the ministry's Guidelines for Management Conservancies and Standard Operating Procedures, with an exception of one conservancy only. Currently, the MEFT is the main entity that offers technical support to these conservancies, which is not always enough as they do not have sufficient resources.
The support stakeholders who attended the meeting agreed that there is a need to establish conservancies support from NGOs and the Regional Government and proposed technical efficacies on the way forward. Some of the methods include establishing a data profile of the conservancy attributes, establishing strong coordination with the regional council through a constituency development committee, regional development coordination committee and local economic development. “We should all work closely together to successfully implement the proposed action plans for the benefit of our local communities,” said the facilitator, Ronny Dempers, as he concluded the meeting.