Namibia Shows the Way in Community Based Tourism

Botswana’s Wildlife and Tourism Minister visited Namibia for five days last week in order to learn about empowering rural communities.

Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET) Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said Minister Onkokame Mokaila and his 12 member team came to Namibia to learn more about the community-based and natural resources management programme (CBNRM).

Mokaila and his team travelled to the Kunene region, to witness the CBNRM programme in action there. Mokaila praised the Namibian Government for implementing such a robust model to the benefit of its people.

“Namibia has a good model to follow, as communities are the key in benefiting from the country’s natural resources. We (Botswana) want to see the money go to the benefit of the communities,” he stressed.

Mokaila pointed out that although statistics have shown that the growth of community-based organizations (CBOs) in Botswana have portrayed some levels of progress, the high incidents of corruption and maladministration reported by these organizations do not correlate with the improvement of the CBNRM’s performance.

He raised the concern that the distribution of benefits in the various CBOs still remains a challenge for Botswana. Namibia’s CBNRM programme is driven to help alleviate poverty through through wildlife management and tourism developments. Overall income generated through the CBNRM and conservancies programme since 1994 has risen sharply. In 2009, conservancies recorded income topping N$42 million.

The biggest income generators for conservancies and the CBNRM programme comes from joint-venture tourism and trophy hunting activities.

Since the establishment of four conservancies in Namibia in 1998, the number has grown to 64 registered conservancies throughout the country. Conservancies cover 13,1 million hectares of land in the country and one in eight Namibians lives in a conservancy.

Once conservancies are registered with the MET, they gain user rights to sustainably utilise wildlife on their land and to establish tourism activities.

The aim of conservancies, according to the conservancy act, is “not to replace livestock or crops with wildlife and tourism”. Instead, the programme is a tool with which to create “additional forms of land use” the Botswana delegation heard this week.