A TOTAL value of N$16 million basket funding will go towards the Ministry of Environment and Forestry under the Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilient Facility to mitigate severe losses brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Environment and Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said for the past thirty years, Namibia’s communal conservancy programme has worked with government to transform wildlife conservation into a viable land-use option for rural communities.
The money has been donated by the Environmental Investment Fund, Nedbank Namibia and UNDP.
Shifeta noted that consequently, 86 conservancies today cover more than 166,179 square km, which accounts for 20% of Namibia and encompasses approximately 222,000 community members, which is 9% of Namibia’s population.
According to Shifeta, tourism, which is the principal economic force in conservancies and pays for the conservation protection costs, is particularly hard hit.
Namibia’s tourism industry is the hardest hit, with an estimated zero tourist arrivals in the country for the next 3 to 4 months.
This situation is, however, likely to persist for the entire 2020.
According to Shifeta, the predictions for lost income and massive job losses in the sector are particularly painful in rural areas, where the majority of the population ekes out a subsistence living through wildlife-tourism based enterprises, which has been seriously weakened by the recent six-year drought.
Conservancy income from tourism operations is approximately N$60 million per year, with an additional N$65 million paid in salaries to tourism staff living in conservancies.
“The jobs of 700 community game guards and rhino rangers, 300 conservancy support staff, and 1175 locally hired tourism staff are in jeopardy, and the 30- year’s effort to build Namibia’s communal conservancy programme is under severe threat,” said Shifeta.
The Environmental Investment Fund will serve as the Secretariat, with the Fund contributing N$6 million towards the facility.
So far, the Namibia Association for CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO) and the World Wildlife Fund have attracted N$7.5 million, while the United Nations Development Programme in Namibia pledged an amount of N$1,5 million, while Nedbank Namibia has pledged N$1 million to the cause.