7 May 2013
The mighty Torra
Remember the song: “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.” The song came alive again in the river bed at Aba Huab camp site on May 4, when the singers of Damaraland Camp wowed the audience of the regional heat of the Joint Venture Lodge Song Competition with their own version of the classic: “In the Torra, the mighty Torra, the lion roams freely.”
Of course, farmers in Torra Conservancy have to contend with lions that do roam freely and occasionally take cattle. The other side of the coin is that tourists love to see lions, as well as the elephants that roam freely through the conservancy, which is why they pay premium prices stay at the up-market Damaraland Camp Lodge.
D-Camp manageress Maggie Vriess jumped for joy when their singing won the regional heat. A few days earlier she had decided not to take part, because she had already represented the lodge and conservancy at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Chiapas, Mexico, where Namibia bid to host the 2013 summit. She says the changed her mind and took part because she wanted to put Torra on the map. Tourists love it she says, when we “put a bit of booma in it.”
The Adventure Travel Trade Summit will take place in Swakopmund and Windhoek in October this year; and there will be a bonus for the final winner of the song competition, which takes place at Tourism Expo. The winning team will sing to delegates who are coming from all over the world to see Namibia’s attractions at first hand.
Damaraland Camp and Twyfelfontein from Kunene will compete with a winning group from Caprivi at the final at Tourism Expo at 5 pm on 30 May. Last year the final was a foot stomping success, so make a date in your tourism diary.
9 April 2013
NAMIBIA: A LEADING EXAMPLE OF CBNRM
WWF Namibia recently hosted a study tour to the Kunene Region for 8 experts in the various fields of conservation from Mongolia, Kenya and South Africa. The aim of the study tour was to assist the participants to understand the Namibian CBNRM programme by taking them directly to the people that make this programme a success - the conservancy members. In turn, the presence of high level experts from three countries provided a unique opportunity for Namibia CBNRM practioners to learn from.
The study tour followed three main themes; business and enterprise, natural resource management, and institutional development and governance. Each them was introduced and explained to the participants by the conservancy committee of the Tsiseb, Torra and ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancies, over a period of 4 days.
During the four days, the participants engaged in fruitful discussions about the achievements as well as the challenges that face the CBRNM programme - while continually drawing upon parallels from their countries. They also discussed ways in which they might apply aspects of the Namibian programme to fit the landscapes and needs of their countries by adopting and employing the CBNRM principles that have worked in Namibia.
These valuable discussions provided the Namibian hosts and conservancy members an opportunity to review the CBNRM programme and analyse suggestions from external experts on how to improve it.
The study tour drew to a close with discussions on the way forward at the WWF office in Windhoek. The visit gave the participants a sense of appreciation for the local people as these community members are the people that make the Namibian CBNRM programme such a success, regardless of the day-to-day challenges they may face.
4 April 2013
External oversight assists conservancy democracy
In December 2012 Uibasen Conservancy held its Annual General Meeting (AGM), but according to support organisations, the elections which took place were not constitutional. The MET, NNF and Conservation Development Support Services (CDSS) advised conservancy members to redo the election process because secret ballots had not been transparent. So on 16 March 2013, Uibasen Conservancy held an extra-ordinary AGM. During the meeting the attendance of registered members exceeded the required AGM quorum of 185 members. According to the Uibasen Conservancy Constitution, an AGM may take place if the attendance of registered members is above 45%.
At the meeting four vacancies were being contested, including the conservancy chairperson, treasurer, secretary, and additional members who would serve on the conservancy management committee. For each vacancy there were five candidates who had to present themselves with numbers which then appeared on the secret ballot. Then the members queued to cast their votes. To make the process more democratic and transparent, external officials were invited to conduct the elections.
Torra Conservancy formed part of the team which facilitated the election process, together with representatives of the NNF. The idea was to avoid biased election results without locals influencing the results in to their own advantage. It was an opportunity to give Uibasen Conservancy members an idea of how democratic and transparent elections are conducted. The chief of the area was also present to observe how the process was conducted.
With external support, the election was very satisfactory. There were some similarities with the previous AGM. The chairperson who was voted into power in the first meeting also managed to win the position in the new elections.
The election process was constitutionally based. Traditional authority, conservancy members, supporting organisations, and representatives from Torra Conservancy were fully convinced of the results as the process was very participatory. The AGM quorum was met as required by the constitution. External technical support was very helpful, giving a clear direction to conservancy members as to how systematic they should be when electing conservancy officials.
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