Support to Community based Natural Resource Management

Project description

Title: Support to Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM Project)
​Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Namibia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET)
Overall Term: 2017 bis 2019


Community based natural resource management (CBNRM) creates an environment where people in communal areas can actively manage their ecosystems. This concept has been known for centuries, but ever since its independence, Namibia has steadily given more rights to the local communities to manage their natural resources. In the mid-nineties, legally recognized community conservation organisations such as conservancies and community forests were formalized under the Nature Conservation Amendment Act of 1996. Since then, a total of 82 conservancies and 32 community forests have been registered and gazetted.

Conservancies are democratically governed by communities through legal constitutions and elected representatives. They employ full-time staff and are allowed to create returns from their natural resource base. Joint ventures with tourism operators and trophy hunting have become important sources of income for many conservancies. Other income sources include harvesting, processing and marketing of natural products. Conservancy members use annual distribution plans in order to share gains. Also community development initiatives such as investments in infrastructure, for example schools, water points and health facilities are implemented. Today, conservancies cover about 20% of the country’s surface area, benefitting over 189 000 people.

The conservancy approach creates a strong incentive for people in rural areas to protect their natural resources. In this regard, Namibia’s CBNRM programme has shown considerable success, both at the ecological and the economic front. However, conservancies still face a number of challenges that prevent them from realising their full potential. The effects of climate change are amongst the factors with far-reaching implications on the livelihoods of rural communities. In addition, not all conservancies have the potential to derive incomes for their members, in particular those on marginal land with little wildlife.


The implementation of the CBNRM policy has improved at national, regional and local levels. Conservancies, integrated community forests and households, which depend on natural resources, have increased their revenues through the diversification of income.


The project supports rural people living inside conservancies and community forests, whose livelihoods depend on the effective implementation of the CBNRM policy. At regional and local level, it targets approximately 100,000 residents of conservancies in Namibia’s northern areas. In a broader sense, it also includes the roughly 190,000 residents of all 82 conservancies throughout Namibia who will mainly be addressed through the national level support of MET.

The project focuses on three main areas:

  1. Policy advice to ensure good governance 
    The project supports the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) in the implementation of the CBNRM policy and in the application of Standard Operating Procedures. At conservancy level, it assists in improving good governance in areas such as decision making, sound financial management and proper implementation of conservancy constitutions. Women in particular receive support in representing their needs and interests in decision making processes. Moreover, the project helps to reduce human-wildlife conflicts and supports approaches that combat wildlife crime.
  2. National Compliance Monitoring 
    The project supports a web-based compliance management system that connects MET’s regional offices with headquarters in real time. The use of the system strengthens the ministry’s institutional capacity in monitoring the compliance of the conservancies and thus improves the implementation of the CBNRM policy.
  3. Increasing benefits from natural resources 
    Even though Namibia is the driest country in Sub-Sahara Africa, it is endowed with an abundance of biodiversity. Healthy wildlife populations are an important source of income. Indigenous natural products make valuable contributions to the nutrition, health and body care of Namibians. The project supports conservancies by improving the management and technical capacities of producers, processors and local product formulators. Research and development, the raising of investments and expanding local and international markets for indigenous products are aiming to increase the incomes of the population in rural areas. In the face of climate change research projects are exploring its effects in selected communities in order to find the necessary measures and steps to deal with its consequences.