Rundu — Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Bernadette Jagger says conservancies should not be used as a tool to divide community members along political, racial or ethnic lines, but is a vehicle towards rural economic emancipation.
"This should be very clear to everyone concerned," she said during the launch of Kapinga Kamwalye Conservancy at Magcuva village in Mashare Constituency, Kavango East on Thursday.
The Kapinga Kamwalye Conservancy was named after one of the Shambyu Traditional leader who reigned during the 1800s, the idea to establish the conservancy was started in 2001 and spearheaded by Alfons Siyere from the Shambyu Traditional Authority who pushed the MET to speed up its establishment which led to the conservancy being gazetted and registered last year.
During the launch, Jagger said there are several conservancies where there are in-fights, conflicts amongst committee members around conservancies in the country and some of the members are misusing funds meant to develop their communities for personal gain, she urged those involved to stop.
"MET has been receiving complaints from some conservancies for individuals and even conservancy committee members misusing and misappropriating conservancy property and finances at the expense of the broader conservancy members. At the recent Annual Conservancies Chairperson Forum, the MET Minister Pohamba Shifeta reconfirmed the provision of atleast 50 percent of income generated by each conservancy to be invested in community development projects," she said.
Jagger said that her ministry will soon also introduce new financial management directives in order to prevent misuse of conservancy funds. The directives will be implemented by all conservancies without fail.
"I urge you all to commit yourselves to nation building and not indulge yourselves in creating conflicts amongst the community members and yourselves as conservancy members. We need to work together with vigour and determination to achieve our developmental goals," she said. "Our objectives of empowering our people cannot be achieved by government alone, therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to the NGOs and the private sector for the support they continue to render to communities in the country and the Kavango East Region in particular. I also want to thank NNF for the support they provide to conservancies in the Kavango East Region and other regions in the country," she noted.
Jagger during the event congratulated MET officials who facilitated the formation of Kapinga Kamwalye Conservancy, stating that the establishment of the conservancy was an achievement for the staff members of the ministry, supporting developmental partner organizations and the community.
"I want to thank the communities of Kapinga Kamwalye, the regional council and the traditional authority for this excellent initiative in forming the conservancy which is aimed at uplifting the living standards of the people," she said.
Namibia has adopted a number of innovative strategies to achieve biodiversity conservation within the framework of national development plans and poverty reduction. One of the strategies is the Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme, which allows the formation of communal conservancies through which rural communities have gained rights over management of wildlife and tourism. CBNRM programme provides a number of incentives to rural communities who are managing these natural resources and generate income from the sustainable utilisation of wildlife and tourism management.
Due to the commitment shown by rural communities, there has been a remarkable recovery and increase of wildlife populations, including key predator species and endangered species such as elephant and black rhinoceros.