The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta launched the Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilience Facility on 05 May 2020. The facility aims to respond to the threat that COVID-19 poses to long-term sustainability and success of the community-based conservation programme of Namibia.
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. The jobs of 700 community game guards and rhino rangers, 300 conservancy support staff, and 1175 locally hired tourism staff are in jeopardy. As a result, the 30-year effort to build Namibia’s communal conservancy programme is under severe threat
The UNDP Namibia Resident Representative, Ms Alka Bhatia noted that UNDP is supporting the Ministry and its partners to assess and understand the full impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism sector. This assessment is focusing on the community-based conservation efforts, including conservancies and community forests. At the launch of the facility, an initial N$16 million from the various partners was contributed and UNDP Namibia contributed N$1.5 million.
UNDP Namibia’s Covid-19 response is framed around three objectives. These are, helping Namibia to prepare for and protect people from the pandemic and its impacts. Furthermore, to respond during the outbreak. Lastly, this also includes recovering from the economic and social impacts in the months and years to come. Under the recovery aspect, UNDP is supporting Namibia to assess the social and economic impacts of Covid-19 and take urgent recovery measures to minimise long-term impact, particularly for vulnerable and marginalised groups, and to help the Namibian societies to recover.
To ensure the survival of Namibian Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) entities, the facility will also support the Medium to long-term recovery and resilience measures. This support will ensure that CBNRM institutes continue to safeguard environmental benefits as a basis for the tourism industry in Namibia. In 2018, the communal conservancies facilitated more than 4900 jobs, with the majority employed as game guards and in the tourism and hospitality industry, representing about N$65-80 million in wages and salaries.