Bamunu Conservancy – electricity and water to rural villages
The Bamunu Conservancy dedicated N$ 2 million of their budget to undertake community development projects in 2019, which is over 50% of their annual income derived from conservation hunting. In deciding which community projects to start with this income, the conservancy held consultative meetings with villages in each of the five settlement zones.
In 2016, they found that people wanted electricity to improve their standard of living. The conservancy therefore initiated a village electrification project that is now at 60% completion. They bought six electrical transformers (one per village) and assisted individual households with their connections. An estimated 540 people (295 women and 245 men) have benefitted from the project thus far. Electricity creates opportunities for establishing new businesses (e.g. welders, barbers, and shops where refrigeration is required), facilitates evening activities (e.g. children doing homework, families watching television), and allows households to use appliances for various reasons.
Muketela village in Bamunu opted to use conservancy funds to improve their water supply for household and farming purposes. They bought and installed a water pump and pipes to supply households, troughs for livestock, and to water a community garden. Produce from the garden is used to improve food security and generate funds to support schoolchildren. The conservancy has also drilled boreholes and repaired an old windmill to supply water for elephants and other wildlife, with the aim of reducing human-wildlife conflict near water points.
Besides these special projects focusing on electricity and water, the conservancy supports the traditional leaders and a local sports tournament, as directed by members during the Annual General Meeting.
Nyae Nyae Conservancy – cash benefits and fruit trees
The San community in Nyae Nyae have very few employment opportunities, so the members of this conservancy have opted for cash benefits since 2002. Cash enables households to buy essentials like pots, blankets, clothes and food, which is more flexible than receiving food parcels alone. Besides cash, the conservancy benefit distribution plan includes seed for village gardens, financial assistance for funerals, support to their traditional authority and school uniforms.
The conservancy employs 27 people full-time as game guards, Devil’s claw resource monitors, and a water team that helps maintain water infrastructure. These jobs support the conservancy’s goals and provide much- needed stable income for many households. The Chairperson of the conservancy, Xoan/’an /Ai!ae says “the rights of the community to decide how it benefits from conservancy activities is really important, 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”.
Recently, the conservancy established a tree-planting project among several villages. The local Ministry of Agriculture Water and Fisheries provided paw paw and guava plants while other local suppliers have provided various citrus, grapes, custard apple, and moringa plants among others. Active pest control and co- planting insect repelling plants means that no pesticides are needed, which would be costly and damaging to the environment. Schoolchildren were involved in the planting project in each village – their efforts will be rewarded when they can