Rights, Revenue and Resources: The problems and potential of conservancies as community wildlife management institutions in Namibia
Recent legislation in Namibia has enabled the people who live in communal areas to establish a ‘conservancy’ on their land in order to utilise natural resources, including wildlife. However, a number of problems have already arisen in developing such common property resource management institutions. These include: the definition of community and of boundaries; competing interest groups within communities; competition between conservancies and other institutions; differences in scale between appropriate social units and resource management units; uncertain land tenure, and differential support capacity to assist all the communities wishing to form conservancies.~Even so, many communities have managed to overcome these difficulties and though it is too early to measure the impacts of conservancies on wildlife or local livelihoods, there are indications of small, but positive trends and benefits. Benefits to local communities are of both a financial and non-financial nature, including the provision of accountable leaders and a participatory decision-making process that includes women. If these benefits are to continue however, a more co-ordinated government support must remain responsive to community needs. Indeed, much will depend upon the extent to which conservancies can fit into nested levels of decision-making and defend their rights at higher levels.