The northern most and western parts of the Kunene region is still suffering from the terrible drought, in contrast to most of Namibia where rainfall has been exceptional.
This prolonged drought has had a devastating impact on both livestock and wildlife, affecting the income of conservancies and local communities. But the region's plight has drawn the attention of the private sector with several companies joining forces to raise funds.
First was the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) organisation whose Chief Executive, John Kasaona came up with the idea to buy cattle within the region and then distributing the meat to suffering communities.
The NGO initiative was quickly followed by the private sector with Canadian gold major, B2Gold leading the charge. Managing Director, Mark Dawe, spearheaded the critical fundraising at the same time motivating other companies to join the cause. The response was swift with Debmarine Namibia, the Namdeb Foundation, Ongava Game Reserve, Wilderness Safaris, Agribank, the First Rand Namibia Foundation Trust, Natural Selection and the Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb Community Trust, contributed a combined amount of more than N$860,000.
These contribution were mirrored by B2Gold who donated another N$1 million to the Chamber of Environment for a 'Cash for Work' programme which employs locals for a range of tasks in the conservancies. This way, more than a hundred people found temporary employment at 16 tourism sites spread across five conservancies. Their collective income amounted to N$294,000. In the meantime the programme continues.
IRDNC's Kasaona said the support from traditional authorities and from conservancies was encouraging with 274 cattle changing hands to date. The initiative was successfully implemented thanks to one of IRDNC's Cluster Support Coordinators, Dave Kangombe, who together with his team, toured several Kunene conservancies, bought cattle carcasses and distributed the meat to the elderly and vulnerable members of the conservancies as well as to local schools.