October 11, 2010

Community Conservation in Namibia

Devolution as a Tool for the Legal Empowerment of the Poor
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Over the past 15 years, more than 50 conservancies have formed and more than 20 are awaiting government approval. Creating these conservancies is a time consuming and costly process.

Despite these costs, Namibians are increasingly turning towards conservancies as a means of improving local economies and environments, bringing wildlife back to communities, building skills, and strengthening local governance institutions. Although the benefits of the community-based natural resource program (CBNRM) were somewhat slow to materialize, many conservancies are moving towards self-sufficiency, and more cash and other non-cash benefits are now flowing into local economies.

By strengthening the incentives of rural Namibians to conserve and protect the country‘s valuable natural resources the government has developed a successful example of African decentralization that is strengthening economic development and improving conservation and local governance. By devolving additional rights to conservancies to manage resources the Namibian government could do even more to help its citizens prosper and flourish.