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A golden harvest

If you drive along the highway through Kavango in June, a golden harvest of thatching grass is stacked at many points along the roadside, awaiting collection by dealers who transport the bundles as far as Angola.

A lorry load is worth fifty thousand dollars. The grass harvested in George Mukoya and Muduvu Nyangana conservancies, and throughout Kavango, usually sells for N$10 a bundle, and is an important source of income for local farmers.

Sebastian Kamwanga is typical. Just married and with two young daughters, he needs cash. He has only just started farming, but like many farmers in the area he canít expect a good crop because of the drought. Most of his income comes from fishing and from building roofing frames from local wood. Harvesting thatching grass is a small, but reliable income. This year he sold 250 bundles and he wants to use the money to buy goats.

But itís not all profit. Part of the income goes to the traditional authority, which charges N$500 per person every season to cut grass. The conservancies have a more complex system. Members can cut for their own use free of charge. Outsiders who want to cut grass for sale pay a fee of a thousand dollars. Conservancy members cutting grass to exchange for products pay five hundred.

Both of the Kavango conservancies overlap with community forests and adjoin Khaudum National Park, forming the Khaudum Complex. The deep sand of the area makes it difficult to access, which is a bonus for conservation. Trees in the complex include leadwood, various acacia species, Zambezi teak, tamboti and baobab. Ensuring that forest products are harvested sustainably is the task of the community forest and conservancy management. Neither conservancy has a reliable income from tourism or hunting, so the small fees collected for permission to harvest grass are an important contribution to the conservancies, which employ 19 community resource monitors.

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What is NACSO?

Introduction

Brandberg, Namibia's highest mountain
Download a map showing Namibia's community forests.
Download a map showing Namibia's community forests (November 2012)
Download posters profiling Namibia's Communal Conservancies.
Download posters profiling Namibia's Communal Conservancies (June 2012)
Download booklets profiling Namibia's Communal Conservancies.
Download booklets profiling Namibia's Communal Conservancies (June 2012)
New booklet - Tips for Joint Venture Partnerships in Tourism
Download the booklet - Tips for JV Partnerships in Tourism [3.5 MB].
View Destination Namibia - a new film
View Destination Namibia - a short film that showcases Namibia as a tourism destination.
Download a brochure on Namibia's Communal Conservancies
Download the brochure on Namibia's communal conservancies. [pdf 2MB]
Visit the Community Conservation Namibia website.
Planning a trip to Namibia's communal conservancies? Visit the Community Conservation Namibia website: it offers a location map and detailed information about those conservancies offering amenities and activities like lodging, photo and wildlife safaris, food and dining, cultural attractions and more.
The majority of Namibians depend directly on natural resources for their day-to-day needs.
Photo: David Sandison
Development of natural products, such as oil from Kalahari Melons, can enhance the livelihoods of rural communities.
Photo: Peggy Poncelet

The Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) is an association comprising 9 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.

Download NACSO's Five-Year Strategic Plan [pdf 243kb].

NACSO's history

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, NDT and international associate member WWF continues today.

NACSO's Constitution

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.

Download the constitution here [pdf 76 kb].

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.

  1. MET Policy Document - Wildlife Management, Utilisation and Tourism in Communal Areas (June 1995);
  2. MET Policy Document - Community-Based Tourism Development (June 1995) [pdf 42 kb]; and
  3. Amendment No. 5 of 1996: Nature Conservation Amendment Act, 1996 [pdf 440 kb]; and
  4. Government Notice No. 304 of 1996 - MET Amendment of Regulations Relating to Nature Conservation

These policies and the accompanying legislation have supported a nation-wide conservation and development movement so that, by 2014, less than 20 years after the first conservancy was gazetted, there were 82 registered conservancies, a similar community association operating in a national park and over 30 community forests, which together cover almost 20% of Namibia. 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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