UBC Undergraduate Research

Effects of community-based natural resource management on household welfare in Namibia Riehl, Brianne


Biodiversity conservation, as an environmental goal, is increasingly recognized to be connected to the socioeconomic well-being of local communities. The development of a widespread community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) program in Namibia makes it an ideal location to analyze the connection between conservation and socioeconomic well-being of local communities. Namibia’s CBNRM program involves the formation of communal conservancies within rural communities and is typically considered a success on both ecological and economic fronts. In order to broaden the understanding of the program’s impact to include social factors, we have conducted a comparative analysis to determine the effects of this program on household welfare outcomes. Data from two rounds of the Namibia Demographic and Health Surveys (2000 and 2006/07) and quasiexperimental statistical methods were used to evaluate changes in various health, education and wealth outcomes of those living in conservancies, relative to non-conservancy comparison groups. Regression results indicate mixed effects of the conservancy program at the household level. The program had positive effects on some health outcome variables, including bednet ownership, which was twice as likely to increase over time in conservancy compared to non-conservancy households. Program impacts were negative for education outcomes, with the proportion of school attendance of conservancy children being 45% less likely to increase over time than non-conservancy children. Wealth outcome results were inconclusive. Our findings highlight the importance of analyzing community conservation programs at the household level when evaluating overall impact, as community benefits do not necessarily extend down to the household level. We recommend further analysis of this program, as an extended time period, more outcome variables and larger sample sizes would provide a valuable addition to this analysis.

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