Government has raised over N$120 million towards a conservation relief, recovery and resilient facility aimed at providing financial support to institutions negatively affected by Covid-19.
Bennett Kahuure, director of wildlife and national parks at the environment ministry, said the programme has been serving its mandate since implementation.
“We have been hard at work over the past 14 months. We thought this was a small initiative, but it gradually grew. In the first quarter, we started off with N$6 million and managed to raise N$123 million to date, of which slightly over N$101 million has been committed. Around half of that figure has basically been dispersed already to various beneficiaries,” he stated.
On a quarterly basis, the amount the facility dispersed to communal conservancies is over N$6 million, which covers their operations and ensures salaries are paid.
Kahuure noted that there are still a significant number of employees at joint venture centres who are working at reduced salaries.
After the declaration of the state of emergency in March 2020, the heavily tourism-dependent conservancy sector faced serious consequences due to the suspension of international travel.
The number of international and regional passengers arriving at Namibian airports registered a significant decline of 79.2%, year-on-year.
Arrivals have since increased significantly by 175.3%, quarter-on-quarter, as reflected in both international and regional arrivals for the first quarter of 2021.
A task force appointed by the environment minister was given the mandate to engage the conservancy sector from a resources mobilisation perspective. Kahuure said the responsibility of the task force was to manage resources to be allocated to communal conservancies, community forests, joint venture tourism lodges operating on communal land, hunting operators and many craft centres managed by rural communities in all 86 of the communal conservancies.
“They were given the task to see how the conservancies’ activities would continue, and that human-wildlife conflict mitigation efforts are still being carried out after the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the official explained.
Meanwhile, the relief facility also plays a supporting function, particularly within the tourism and conservancy sector, alongside national efforts in place to reduce the economic impact on over 220 000 members involved in communal conservancy activities.