December 2018
Namibia Rural Land Reform Programme - Opportunity Knocks

The concept of sustainable use of natural resources is a primary strategy in protecting Africa’s ecosystems and wildlife, and in supporting rural socio-economic development. It is a conservation strategy that embraces the whole gambit of natural resource use, based on an understanding of biology and ecology, and their relevance in, and integration into, the socio-economic development of Africa’s rural people. As a cornerstone philosophy, it has been adopted and entrenched in the Namibian Constitution.

Namibia has an impressive record of wildlife conservation success, not least in the establishment of Communal Conservancies, whereby rural communities have acquired a stake in the management, and in the utilisation benefits, of the wildlife that occurs on their land.

In addition, in many parts of rural Namibia, outside of the communal lands, climatic and other ecological factors have resulted in the realisation that a conservation land management strategy, based on wildlife safari tourism and natural resource harvesting, offers the optimum long-term socio-economic development option. The growth and strength of the wildlife and nature based tourism industries over the last decade is indicative of that reality.

The country has also recognised the urgency of meeting the legitimate needs of Namibia’s indigenous people for ownership of land outside of the communal areas, and for them to have the opportunity to achieve prosperity from that land. Yet land does not in itself translate into prosperity. Those who hold it require both the expertise and financial means to utilise it with ecological sustainably and economic viability. 

In Namibia, the lessons learnt from the Communal Conservancy programme and the expertise acquired by the State and private wildlife conservation, game ranching and tourism industries could well be applied to establishing an innovative and collaborative land ownership and land-use programme, incorporating the land redistribution imperative.

A programme that potentially incorporates State, communal, private and redistributed land into multi-owner, landscape scale, wildlife conservation and management “reserves”. A programme that also provides appropriate funding, education and training for the Namibian beneficiaries of land redistribution, so that they can, not only acquire their own land but take responsibility for it, and participate fully in the wildlife and tourism industries.

It could also ensure that the necessity for the redistribution of land does not disrupt the already successful wildlife management and tourism industries, but rather creates new opportunities, while allowing these existing industries to contribute their expertise and experience to the integration of the new Namibian owners of land. The identification and purchase of land for redistribution that is located adjacent to existing wildlife conservation and tourism land-use properties, whether State or private, would be central to the opportunity to create of new, landscape-scale, economically viable and ecologically sustainable, multi-stakeholder “nature reserves”.

Among the Integrated Pillars of Sustainable Development stated in the 5th National Development Plan, Namibia has four goals which are directly applicable to achieving broad-based ecosystem and wildlife conservation, namely :

* Socio-economic development through infrastructure and skills development

* Universal employment and the reduction of income disparities

* Equitable and productive land redistribution

* Conservation through sustainable utilisation of renewable natural resources

The introduction of ecosystem conservation management into the land redistribution programme in an approach that is collaborative, inter-sector and holistic, could contribute to the achievement of all four goals simultaneously, while at the same time expanding the area of land under productive wildlife conservation and tourism management.

There is, thus, a compelling ecological and economic case for advocating the investment of financial, material and expert resources into innovative rural land-use planning, based on wildlife and renewable natural resources, by private, institutional and government investors.

Investment into landscape-scale conservation management areas, in collaboration with Namibian economic empowerment and rural socio-economic development, is probably the country’s most crucial conservation imperative.


It should be possible, in cooperation and collaboration with the Namibia Land Reform Programme, to establish landscape-scale, ecologically sustainable and economically viable wildlife conservation and natural resource-based, multiple landowner, socio-economic development projects. Projects that are designed to incorporate State Land, Private Land and Redistributed Land in collaborative, Public - Private - Community (PPC) Partnerships, which allow established wildlife and tourism properties and enterprises to contribute to the integration of land redistribution beneficiaries into the wildlife management and safari tourism industries.



Curriculum Vitae                                                   Conservation    Community    Commerce    Culture                                      © David Peddie 2017