Government earned N$68 million in the last financial year from the Community-Based Natural Resources’ Management (CBNRM) programme.
From as early as 1998 when the programme kicked off, government only garnered an income of approximately N$1 million in that year.
Apart from the income, other benefits including employment also contributed to the rural economy of the country.
In 2013, tourism & hunting generated N$72.2 mil for communities, whilst 6,472 jobs were created.
Meanwhile, the income from hunting and game sales since 1998 (as there was no hunting before that) is about N$ 161 million.
This is just under half of the total benefit returns which conservancies generated, which was N$371 million.
The CBNRM programme was formulated in 1996 when the post-independence government put in place bold legislation which gave rural communities living in communal areas back their rights to wildlife by establishing communal area conservancies.
Conservancies, mainly those established after the CBNRM became widely spread, are losing money on a regular basis, and will continue needing funds from donors.
This is according to data from the research community, as the financial benefits to the conservancies are less in comparison to the social benefits they get.
Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta admitted that generally, donor funding in Namibia has gone down, but maintained that government is the major contributor to the programme.
Most of the donors used to give assistance to communities through partner organizations such as the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Namibian Association of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) , Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) and the Namibia Development Trust (NDT).
Shifeta said these programmes contributed enormously to the CBNRM programme, while other donors were the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Canadian Ambassador’s Fund, USAID Life project and recently the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Namibia, which closed its doors last year.
”WWF also funds a lot of programmes, and in-country funding from the Game Products’ Trust Fund (GPTF) and Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) have recently been assisting the conservancies in numerous ways, ranging from human-wildlife conflict issues to providing equipment to anti-poaching teams,” Shifeta explained.
He said the country has 82 registered conservancies and over 250 000 people in rural Namibia deriving direct and indirect benefits from this programme. Communal conservancies cover approximately 161 000km2 in Namibia.
Communities have benefitted from conservancies in many ways, such as the generation of income from trophy-hunting and tourism, income from the selling of crafts, the creation of employment for community members as trackers, camp staff, lodge staff, skinners, guides, game guards for conservancies and other tourism operations, meat for community consumption and to sell as well as the overall sales of wildlife.
A research paper titled ‘Community-based wildlife management failing to link conservation and financial viability’ stated that as even the unprofitable conservancies help maintain dispersal areas for species which contribute to tourism revenue in other conservancies, revenue-sharing systems should perhaps be put in place among the conservancies.
“Through such systems, the more profitable conservancies could help pay for the dispersal areas provided by other, otherwise non-profitable conservancies.
However, an obvious problem is that this would reduce net revenue for the conservation relatively less attractive to the rural communities managing these conservancies,” the research noted in part.
The research added that such a revenue-sharing system would still entail trying to exploit direct use values from hunting and viewing tourism to pay for the indirect use values and non-use values which community conservancies generate for the global community.
“Our analysis indicates that the current system fails to do so. Moreover, although a reallocation of revenue between conservancies would give a better distribution of the overall revenue, the fact that overall financial profitability has stagnated indicates that with the continued establishment of new conservancies, in future overall revenue may not be enough to finance the new conservation activities being set up,” the research showed.
by Charmaine Ngatjiheue