Conservancy chairpersons discuss way forward

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Conservancy chairpersons discuss way forward

KEETMANSHOOP – Hendrik Thirion, chairperson of the //Gamaseb Wildlife Conservancy, said the annual forum aims to address common challenges and advise each other through established platforms to carry out their respective activities as a group, having one common goal.

He said this during an interview with New Era at the recently-concluded forum in Keetmanshoop. 

“Unfortunately, it happens that we do not harmonise our plans with different government structures in place, leading to the delay in implementing our programmes,” he said. 

He also said platforms like this are ideal in that they can now directly engage the line minister on the challenges they are facing, who can then make recommendations to higher authorities for approval and implementation of needed interventions required to operate these conservancies successfully. 

“Our biggest challenge in the conservancy is that it borders with commercial and communal farms, having the result that the wild species we are having are roaming freely on other farmers’ land, who can then claim ownership of it in some cases,” Thirion added. 

The chairperson also said, when shooting the animals, they normally divide the meat between the community members and sell some as a means of income to sustain their basic needs. 

Deputy chairperson of the Aus Community Conservation Trust (ACCT) Margareth Waters informed this publication they are operating their resources based on a benefit distribution plan. 

“Through registering as a member and paying an annual fee of N$5, such person’s family will get an amount of N$500 financial assistance if he/she passed on. 

“We are, furthermore, contributing towards the tuition fees for tertiary institution and vocational training centre students in our community,” she added. 

Waters continued that, through the received information technology (IT) equipment, the trust also facilitates training for the youth in the area.

“We also receive fish annually from the Brama Brama Fishing Company by virtue of having five percent shares in the entity, which we distribute amongst our members – and in doing so make a big difference in their livelihood,” said Waters. 

She added they are also currently running a Winter Project through which blankets donated by those more fortunate are then distributed to the vulnerable in the community.

“Our main source of income is that of levies paid to the ACCT by tourists, who are enjoying the sceneries and attractions like the wild horses at Garab,” said the deputy chairperson.

 She also expressed the hope that government will now renew the trust’s concession permit, which expired in December 2019, and that the legalities that put the process on hold will be ironed out soonest.

Also speaking at the event, Ronny Dempers, chairperson of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resources Management Supporting Organisations (CBNRM), said this annual event brings together the relevant stakeholders to take stock on the progress made and provide solutions to issues faced with. 

“This has not only been an innovation in the service delivery approach, which the ministry has adopted, but goes a long way to demonstrate the commitment of bringing government services closer to the people – and for me, it is a demonstration of leadership accountability,” he added.

Dempers also maintains that the relative success they have achieved in this program is because it has been anchored around the principal of partnership. 

“CBNRM and its success, thus far, would not have been possible if it was not the partnership between government, civil society, donors and the private sector,” he said.