Diversifying the rural economy to benefit people and communities

Business and enterprise development in conservancies

Livelihoods graphic

Total returns to conservancies and members

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 more than N$ 147 million in 2018. This includes all directly measurable income and in-kind benefits being generated, and can be divided into cash income to conservancies (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).

Total returns to conservancies and members
  • Returns from wildlife and other natural resources generated through community conservation are substantial, including direct income to conservancies from tourism and conservation hunting, jobs created, and other meaningful benefits such as the distribution of game meat.
  • New opportunities for rural job creation have arisen, especially in tourism where people are employed in a range of activities as tour guides, lodge staff, campsite operations and handicraft production.
  • Diversification of income can be an important factor in peoples’ livelihoods and can contribute to community resilience against episodic events such as drought and floods. The ability to cope with such events is increasingly necessary for rural communities confronted with the harsh reality of climate change.

Living with wildlife pays dividends – but comes with costs

Conservancies earn income from tourism and hunting operations. In addition, there are in-kind benefits such as meat. Added together, these are returns.

Like private sector businesses and farms, conservancies earn income, but also have high costs. These costs are salaries and overheads (such as office and vehicle expenses).

Conservancies also provide benefits to members in cash and community projects – rather like payouts to shareholders.

Conservancy expenditures in 2018
Conservancy expenditures in 2018

Conservancies generate income and benefits, which go directly to residents, especially from employment in tourism and hunting, and from harvesting plant products and selling crafts.

Conservancy benefits and income
Benefits and income for enterprises direct to communities in 2018

While the tangible gains are significant for many conservancy members, intangible gains are at least as significant. Benefits such as capacity building and empowerment in rural areas, conservation of wildlife and habitat, and resilience to climate change through diversification of land use; these are difficult to measure, but are substantial in development terms.

Conservancy intangible benefits
Intangible benefits from conservancies

*The top two circles represent financial information for 2018. The lower circle is not quantified

A review of 2018

Livelihoods at a glance

At the end of 2018 there were...

  • 38 conservancies directly involved with tourism activities
  • 61 joint-venture tourism agreements with enterprises employing 1,174 full time and 50 part time staff
  • 48 conservation hunting concessions with 159 full time and 119 part time employees
  • 22 small/medium enterprises with 82 full time and 22 part time employees
  • 943 conservancy employees
  • 890 conservancy repesentatives receiving allowances
  • 1,083 indigenous plant product harvesters
  • 414 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$ 147,457,734 in returns and benefits during 2018. Of this
    • tourism generated N$ 100,145,432
    • conservation hunting N$ 30,090,967 including 397,722 kg of game meat distributed to conservancy residents valued at N$ 9,545,328
    • indigenous natural products generated N$ 4,855,440
    • and miscellaneous income (including items such as interest) totalled N$ 2,820,567
  • 43 conservancies generated sufficient income to cover their operating expenses
  • Conservancy residents earned a total cash income of N$ 77,554,611 from enterprise wages, of which N$ 48,697,405 was from joint-venture tourism, N$ 20,832,398 from conservancies, N$ 4,350,604 from conservation hunting and N$ 3,674,204 from SMEs
  • Conservancy residents earned cash income of N$ 3,176,124 from indigenous plants and N$ 1,748,405 from crafts
  • N$ 15,341,103 in cash benefits was distributed to conservancy residents and used to support community projects

Tourism in 2018

  • Tourism remained a growth sector in the Namibian economy, which was evidenced by very good occupancy rates in JV lodges and an increase in potential new JV lodges from investors.
  • Joint venture agreements grew from 54 in 2017 to 61 in 2018, employing an additional 248 full and part-time staff.
  • An increasing challenge to tourism in conservancies is from individual landholders securing leasehold rights for tourism and demanding that tourism enterprises should have JV agreements with them, and not conservancies. This would result in returns not being reinvested into conservation and social projects, and thereby undermining local efforts in conservation and benefit distribution.

» Find more information on Tourism.

Benefit distribution in 2018

  • Conservancy residents earned a total cash income of N$ 77,554,611 from wages paid by conservancies, JV partners and SMEs, 18% more than in 2017.
  • In 2018 conservancies distributed N$ 15.3 million in benefits to their members, of which just over N$ 10 million went into social projects.
  • Meat distributed to conservancy residents (calculated in value) was 31% less in 2018 than 2017 due to the decrease in wildlife numbers and quotas for own-use hunting.

» Find more information on Benefits.

This page was last updated on: 9th December 2019