The Community Conservation Fund of Namibia
The Trust Fund is a NACSO project designed to sustain the management of wildlife and natural resources by rural communities by providing long-term funding for critical conservation services.
The Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme of Namibia is one of the world’s leading examples of conservation and rural community empowerment through the devolution of rights and responsibilities over wildlife and other natural resources, including forests and indigenous plant species.
The achievements and impacts of the programme over the last two decades are impressive and inspiring. Rural communities have formed 86 communal conservancies, 43 community forests, and a community association living within national park boundaries. Cumulatively, these cover almost 20.2% of Namibia’s land and engage and empower almost 10% of Namibia’s population as conservation stewards.
The success of the CBNRM Programme is based on two premises: that communities wish to live with their natural heritage, including wildlife, and that through the programme, benefits accrue to local communities in the rural economy, linked to strong and sustainable wildlife populations.
Despite the impressive gains that have been made in Namibia’s community based conservation, and the global recognition that has ensued as a result, the challenge remains to create a fully sustainable national programme that will consolidate the gains and create further opportunities for the economic and social development of Namibia’s rural communities based upon the sustainable use of natural resources.
The need for a fund
The Namibian CBNRM Programme has been in operation for more than two decades, at the end of which, 17 out of the current 86 conservancies have matured and attained a stable ‘maintenance’ financial status, able to cover their own running costs. More conservancies are in the making, resulting in a mixture of conservancies at different stages of development. More than half the current conservancies require support to move from a development to a sustainable maintenance stage, and some conservancies are unlikely to have sufficient income from tourism or trophy hunting to cover their running costs, but nevertheless do valuable conservation work.
The Community Conservation Fund of Namibia is designed to assure the sustainability of the programme by funding critical conservation services provided by conservancies and community forests and supporting the development of their management.
In response to the need, the National CBNRM Sustainability Task Force studied and endorsed the ‘Namibia National CBNRM Sustainability Strategy’ in May 2012, which included the creation of a CBNRM fund.
Together with the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO), the Task Force also commissioned a Financial Gap Analysis that was completed in late 2014.
In essence, the Fund seeks to raise and manage a capital sum in endowments to support essential long-term services, and further sinking funds over a 15-year period to finance special projects and short-term needs. Essential long-term services are defined as a minimum support package that conservancies and community forests will need at their various stages of development.
The Community Conservation Fund of Namibia is an ‘Association not for gain’, under the Companies Act of Namibia. Its governance structure consists of members who are the founders of the fund and who convene annual general meetings, and a board of directors that appoints a chief executive officer of the Fund. The CEO runs the operations of the Fund from a secretariat and reports to the board of directors.
A sustainable future
The Convention of Biological Diversity calls for benefit sharing with local people. Namibia’s Communal Conservancy Programme is a model in both economic and conservation terms.
The Community Conservation Fund of Namibia has been designed to assure the sustainability of the Namibian CBNRM Programme, and further improve the capacity of local communities to be the stewards of their natural resources, to derive benefits from them, and to build on the conservation successes of Namibia.