What is NACSO?
The Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) is an association comprising 14 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and the University of Namibia. The purpose of NACSO is to provide quality services to rural communities seeking to manage and utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The philosophy of forming NACSO was to harness the wide range of skills available in Government, NGOs and the University into a complementary nation-wide CBNRM support service. The rationale behind this is that it is unlikely that any single institution houses all of the skills, resources and capacity to provide community organisations with the multi-disciplinary assistance that is required to develop the broad range of CBNRM initiatives taking place in Namibia. These skills could include advice on governance and institutional issues, on natural resources management and assistance with financial and business planning.
The NACSO concept was conceived in 1996 under the title of Communal Area Resource Management Support (CARMS).
However, it was not until August 1998, when a meeting of CBNRM support organisations was convened, that the CBNRM partners began seriously developing the NACSO concept. In September 1999 the CBNRM partners approved the constitution for the CBNRM Association of Namibia (CAN), and the CBNRM Association gained legal status. However, in February 2001 CAN was required to change its name to NACSO because the Cancer Association of Namibia, also with the acronym of CAN, justifiably complained that two organisations in Namibia should not be operating under the same name.
The important work carried out by NACSO on rural development projects, in conjunction with NGOs such as IRDNC, Namibia Nature Foundation, Rössing Foundation and Rise Namibia, has continued. In April 2007 the European Community awarded a contract to Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) to provide four Volunteers and a Project Coordinator to NACSO for the Community Enterprise Support Project (CESP). The objective of this four year project is to improve the livelihoods of rural communities by developing sustainable enterprises based on tourism, crafts and natural products.
The constitution comprises 14 sections in which NACSO's formation, operations, procedures and membership are defined, and it is provided in full here. An introductory paragraph and section 1 describe the broad structure and objectives, whilst the aims, objective and functions are listed in section 2. The 12 objectives mainly concern the promotion and development of CBNRM, and the 8 functions illustrate the activities NACSO may undertake.
In sections 3, 4 and 5 the organisation, the founding membership and the rules for representation on NACSO are given. The powers and functions of the organisation, in supporting the objectives, are given in section 6. The functions of the Management Committee and Working Groups, and the Secretariat are described in sections 7 and 8 respectively. The procedures for grant management, conducting meetings, and financial management are given in section 9, 10 and 11. In the final 3 sections dispute resolution procedures, dissolution and constitutional amendments are specified.
Policy and legislative basis of CBNRM in Namibia
Since independence in 1990, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has pursued a legislative policy to support the introduction and development of Communal Area Conservancies and this led to the creation of NACSO. The following policies and legislation have been enacted to support the Conservancy programme.
These policies and the accompanying legislation have supported a nation-wide conservation and development movement that - by the end of 2007, less than 10 years after the first conservancy was gazetted - involved over 220,000 residents in 50 registered conservancies on over 118,700 km2 of communal land and generated income and benefits totaling over N$39 million. While government has passed many new policies and legislation since independence, few if any, have had the marked impact this MET programme is having.
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