Buffering livelihoods against the impact of COVID-19
The main sources of returns for communal conservancies relate to international arrivals, either directly or indirectly. Photographic tourism, conservation hunting, and craft industries are all reliant on international customers. Global travel restrictions and closed borders thus had a huge impact on the ability of conservancies and their members to generate economic returns. Consequently, conservancy cash and in-kind benefits nearly halved this year compared to 2019. The impact would have been much greater without financial assistance from the Conservation Relief, Recovery, and Resilience Facility (CRRRF).
Total returns from community conservation
The total cash income and in-kind benefits generated in conservancies (including the Kyaramacan Association) grew from less than N$ 1 million in 1998 to over N$ 150 million in 2019 but shrank significantly in 2020. This includes all directly measurable income and inkind benefits being generated, and can be divided into cash income to conservancies including the Kyaramacan Association (mostly through partnerships with private sector operators), cash income to residents from enterprises (mostly through employment and the sale of products), and as in-kind benefits to residents (mostly the distribution of harvested game meat). Relief grants are excluded.
The people living within a community forest have the right to use the plant resources within the forest, provided they follow the guidelines within the Forest Management Plan. This Plan includes Conditions of Use, which outline what plant resources members and non-members of the Community Forest can use, provided they obtain the necessary permission (e.g. timber harvesting requires payment for permits).
Besides income from permits, community forests may develop livelihood projects for their members with their own or donor funding, several of which reduce their members’ reliance on timber products and thus reduce the pressure on their forests. These include brick-making (to reduce the need for wooden poles for construction), agricultural cooperatives, processing non-timber forest products to add value, and bush thinning projects, among others.
The moratorium on timber harvesting in the north-east due to sustainability concerns, combined with the impact of COVID-19 reduced the income generated by community forests in 2020. Seventeen of the 43 community forests generated a combined income of N$ 582,408 in 2020, and 14 of these issued a total of 596 permits (income generated by three community forests was not associated with permits). Most of the permits were given for firewood and one community forest benefitted from the auction of confiscated timber (the only one that generated over N$1,000,000). The most commonly used non-timber product was Devil’s claw (three community forests), while honey, marula, thatching grass and crafts were among the other products that generated income in community forests.
Freshwater fish are an important part of the diets of people living in north-eastern Namibia (especially if crops fail), an additional source of income, and as part of cultural and social activities. Fish provide protein and micronutrients that are not otherwise easily obtainable for subsistence farmers, thus reducing the prevalence of malnutrition. Research has shown that fish was consumed almost daily 20-30 years ago, but only once a week in recent years.
This resource is under threat due to overfishing, as it is increasingly being exploited for commercial rather than subsistence purposes. Commercial fishers often come from elsewhere (other parts of the country or even other countries) and will move on to other rivers when fish stocks are depleted. Furthermore, the use of monofilament nets quickly results in overfishing, as they are three times more efficient in catching fish than multifilament gillnets (using monofilament nets is illegal in Namibia). Granting local people the rights to prevent or restrict fishing in certain key parts of the river and prevent the use of damaging fishing gear will thus sustain the long-term use of fish resources for local communities.
Recreational catch-and-release fishing is offered as an activity by lodges in this part of Namibia, which may contribute directly or indirectly to rural livelihoods through payment for fishing licenses or employment. Fishing tourism stands to benefit from the presence of fisheries reserves, as more mature fish will be available to tourist fishers. With a formally established reserve, the community can generate income through fishing permits and agreements with local operators that facilitate recreational fishing.
A review of 2020
At the end of 2020 there were...
- 38 conservancies directly involved with tourism activities
- 64 joint-venture tourism agreements with enterprises employing 902 full time and 62 part time staff
- 45 conservation hunting concessions with 109 full time and 25 part time employees
- 14 small/medium enterprises with 16 full time and part time employees
- 1057 conservancy employees
- 954 conservancy repesentatives receiving allowances
- 730 indigenous plant product harvesters
- 15 craft producers
in communal conservancies in Namibia.
Part time employment includes seasonal labour.
What’s being achieved?
by community conservation in Namibia
- Conservancies and private sector partners generated N$ 96,300,178 in returns and benefits during 2020. Of this
- tourism generated N$ 47,371,385
- conservation hunting N$ 26,988,405 including 272,419 kg of game meat distributed to conservancy residents valued at N$ 7,829,865
- indigenous natural products generated N$ 1,482,160
- and miscellaneous income (including items such as interest) totalled N$ 1,944,569
- due to covid-19, emergency support grants of N$ 13,838,384 were provided
- Conservancy residents earned a total cash income of N$ 56,005,079 from enterprise wages, of which N$ 29,684,336 was from joint-venture tourism, N$ 23,318,976 from conservancies, N$ 2,976,117 from conservation hunting and N$ 25,650 from SMEs
- Conservancy residents earned cash income of N$ 1,482,160 from indigenous plants and N$ 29,250 from crafts
- N$ 11,889,143 in cash benefits was distributed to conservancy residents and used to support community projects
Tourism in 2020
The main sources of returns for communal conservancies relate to international arrivals, either directly or indirectly. Photographic tourism, conservation hunting, and craft industries are all reliant on international customers. Global travel restrictions and closed borders thus had a huge impact on the ability of conservancies and their members to generate economic returns.
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Benefit distribution in 2020
- Conservancy residents earned a total cash income of N$ 56,005,079 from wages paid by conservancies, JV partners and SMEs.
- In 2020 conservancies distributed N$ 11.9 million in benefits to their members and to support community projects.
- Meat was distributed to conservancy residents although the "shoot and sell" quota is still zero due to prevailing drought conditions.
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