WINDHOEK - Benefit distributions in communal conservancies often comes in different forms, but mostly in cash. There has been criticism of this, and of the Namibian’s communal conservancies in general, but the Nyae Nyae Conservancy has benefitted significantly from the distribution of cash. People in this day and age simply need cash to pay for certain goods and services and the people in the conservancy are no different.
Nyae Nyae Conservancy, the oldest, second largest and San run conservancy has been distributing cash benefits to its community since 2002. Initially, there was a lot of debate about the merits of distributing cash, but in this community where very few members earn salaries, cash enables the community to buy essential such as pots, blankets and clothes as well as food staples.
As conservancy income has increased, additional benefits have been provided which now include seeds for village gardens and fields, funeral benefit to help cover the cost of coffins, cash support to the traditional authority, as well as school uniforms for San children.
These benefits are alongside the creation of 27 full-time employment positions amongst the San community, which is highly significant in an area with few employment opportunities, and even fewer for the San who often lack formal education.
The 27 full-time positions include a water team who maintains water infrastructure in the conservancy’s 38 villages where there is little visibility of rural water supply. There are also 18 rangers who deter poaching and monitor wildlife activity as well as staff supporting Devil’s Claw harvesting, craft management and agriculture in order to develop community livelihoods.
In this community, one of the greatest benefits of the conservancy structure that is not often mentioned is the right of the community to make decisions for themselves. They decide how their income is spend, they decide who works for them and who sits on their governance structures.
According to chairperson of the conservancy Xoan/’an /Ai!ae, “The rights of the community to decide how it benefits from conservancy activities is really important and empowering for them. In an area where people have few options for jobs or livelihoods, making a choice on what type of benefits they receive has a significant impact on people’s lives.”
Along with the neighbouring conservancy in N≠a Jaqna Conservancy, the chairperson states, “We are also battling with illegal activity in the area on behalf of the community. We could do with more support from the Land Board and local ministries in this, to ensure our community can keep benefitting from our land to which we have the rights.
2019-04-09 09:32:32 | 1 years ago