UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Capacity development for local participation in community based natural resource management of Namibia : the #Khoadi //Hôas conservancy experience Taye, Meseret


Namibia’s community based natural resource management program (CBNRM) integrates local participation in rural development and biodiversity conservation. This effort was launched through key legislation that devolved the right to manage wildlife and other renewable resources on communal lands from the state to community level conservancies. Local participation is dependent upon the capacity of the locals to self mobilize and establish conservancies, plan and implement their programs, and monitor and evaluate their progresses and impacts. Accordingly, this study examines the role of capacity development (CD) in CBNRM, particularly its processes, products, performance, and permanence at the individual, organizational (conservancy), and community levels. The research was carried out using interviews and participatory self-assessment exercises with various conservancy stakeholders. This study uncovers why and how capacity development has to be based on local realities and aspirations where capacity users need to have ownership of the process through partnerships with service providers in order to enhance endogenous capacity. However, such notion of “partnership” between CD stakeholders is challenging to translate into reality in the face of power imbalances, where government and NGOs are continuously influenced and coerced by donor interests, where NGOs are considered stronger than the government because they control more financial and human resources, and where conservancies tend to report upwards to NGOs and government instead of their constituents. Moreover, this research reiterates that CD has to be holistic enough to incorporate individual, organizational, and community level changes in order to create sustainable capacities and prevent problems of elitism, manipulation, and dependency on few individuals. With respect to CBNRM, the research argues that its basic premise of diversifying rural livelihoods using incentives to bring about sustainable resource management can only be achieved when conservancies have the capacity to create representative and participatory democratic processes, and when they are able to generate equitable and reliable tangible benefits with manageable costs to their constituents. As seen in this study, when such governance and benefit sharing structures are in place, they enhance local participation by promoting political empowerment, trust, ownership, and positive attitude towards living with wildlife. However, if such conditions are not met, local participation is reduced, while intra-community conflicts from marginalization to nepotism and members’ dissatisfaction and disinterest are inevitable.

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