WINDHOEK – Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta recently launched the conservation relief, recovery and resilient facility fund to help conservancies around the country pay salaries and other expenses.
The launch took place at the COVID-19 Information Centre in Windhoek, where Shifeta announced that there are about 86 conservancies around the country, covering over 166 000 square kilometres, that are home to approximately 266 000 local people.
This translates to 20 per cent of Namibia’s land mass and 9 per cent of the total population, and the facility so far has garnered funding from various partners amounting to N$16 million.
Shifeta said Namibia’s tourism industry is hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak that forced the country to close its borders. As a result, no tourist is expected to enter the country for the next three to four months, with the situation expected to persist for the rest of the year 2020.
“The most affected people are the communities living in rural areas within the conservancies where most people make a living from tourism. Conservancy income from tourism operations is approximately N$60 million per year, with an additional N$65 million paid in salaries to tourism staff living in conservancies,” said Shifeta.
He said there has been massive wildlife recovery in Namibia since independence and this is all thanks to employees in the conservancies who are taking care of the animals and protecting them from poachers.
The Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) donated N$6 million to the new fund to help maintain conservancies, as some of them have fences that need to be repaired, and the money will also be used to help in the prevention of human-wildlife conflict, according to Benedict Libanda, EIF Chief Executive Officer.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) contributed N$1.5 million, the World Wildlife Fund pledged N$7.5 million and N$1 million came from Nedbank Namibia. - (NAMPA)