Promote Rural Development for Communities around Protected Areas

Key Contact
Iretomiwa Olatunji
Start Date
End Date
Funding Amount
$ 24,000
Knowledge-providing Countries
Knowledge-receiving Countries


In October 2019, the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks, in partnership with the Namibia Association of Community-Based Natural Resources Management Support Organizations (NASCO), facilitated a seven-day study tour to Namibia for a delegation from South Africa. The program consisted of a combination of interactive technical workshops and field visits to engage with communities in different conservancies, meetings with Conservancy committees and Traditional Authorities



In 2018, the Government of South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), requested support from the World Bank to prepare a new programmatic project titled “South Africa:  Rural Development for Biodiversity Conservation around Protected Areas” which aims to reduce rural poverty, create jobs, conserve biodiversity and restore degraded lands around protected areas (PAs). The South Africa’s SANParks, iSimangaliso Wetland Authority and other Protected Areas authorities have been seeking to address the challenge of coupling biodiversity conservation, landscape and seascape restoration with rural development, recognizing the importance of maintaining and protecting the conservation estates while positively impacting the well-being of the communities adjacent to the protected areas.

The capacity development goal of the knowledge exchange was for South African senior government officials to (i) accrue the practical knowledge needed  from successful examples, lessons learned and coaching, and (ii) to promote rural development around PA landscapes. This would be achieved while addressing rural poverty, ensuring biodiversity conservation and the protection of natural resources. The host delegation in Namibia was also interested in learning from their South African counterparts about how to scale up participatory governance models using inclusive planning for PA landscapes that involve local government, communities and other stakeholders.



A knowledge exchange was organized on October 14-18, 2019 for a delegation of thirteen South African government officials who travelled to Namibia. The delegation comprised officials from the South African National Parks-SANParks, iSimangaliso Wetland Authority, National Department of Tourism, the South African National Biodiversity Institute- SANBI and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).

On arrival to Katima Matte in Namibia, the delegation was welcomed by the team facilitator, Ms. Maxi Louis from NASCO. The knowledge exchange workshop began with introductions and an overview of the South African context was provided by the head of delegation, Sibusiso Bukhosini, Chief Executive Officer, Isimangaliso Wetland Authority. During the following session, an overview of the land reform program in South Africa was provided by Ngcali Nomtshongwana, Project Manager of the Land Reform program, SANParks.

This was followed by sessions facilitated by Namibian officials from the Ministry of Environment Parks and Wildlife and NASCO. The topics covered included an overview of the policies and their impact on community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) in Namibia. There were also sessions covering thematic areas of how Namibian communal conservancies are established and operated. The South African and Namibian participants continued to interact and exchange knowledge through debates centered around communities and conservation in general and peer learning activities that allowed to share country-specific examples. Technical sessions focusing on the CBNPRM program were conducted and enriched by field visits into the communal areas of Namibia. During the field visits, the delegation had the pleasure of engaging with various Conservancy committee members, traditional authorities and communities living around conservancies. The delegation also experienced a safari boat ride into the Babwata National Park to learn from some of the activities offered through a joint venture agreement with the Mashi conservancy.

During interactions with communities, the delegation was able to see tangible benefits from wildlife conservation being accrued to previously marginalized and poor communities. They met and had discussions with various communities and learned how much these communities appreciate and respect wildlife despite the challenges of living in proximity of large and dangerous animals.


Lessons Learned

Below are the key lessons learned:

  • In order to create adequate value from wildlife, it is important to divulge the ownership and management of land and natural resources to local communities
  • Community- Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programs can succeed with assistance and guidance from the government, NGOs and the private sector
  • A people-centered approach is needed with communities taking the lead and other agencies playing a supportive role
  • For conservation to be successful, it must be for the people and with the people. The South African delegation noted that more needs to be done to improve their understanding of communities, how they are organized and how best to create structures to coordinate and support the communities
  • When well-managed, CBNRM initiatives have the potential to develop independent and  sustainable communities that can contribute to economic growth and job creation while championing biodiversity conservation
  • Good governance is key to ensuring CBNRM initiatives operate well. This requires ongoing strong engagements with communities which require a lot of time, patience, perseverance and dedication
  • As much as communities may manage their own resources, they depend on guidance provided by external organizations and government. These interactions need to be carefully integrated and balance top-down and bottom-up approaches. Strategic partnerships and collaboration between stakeholders are key to the success of CBNRM initiatives.



Participants' Quotes:

“In closing, I just have to say that Namibia have an almost perfect model in spite of the many challenges associated with CBNRM initiatives. I think the program embodies what South Africa is hoping to achieve: “Conservation for the people, by the people” – MA South African Official


We in Namibia would like to thank the World Bank for sponsoring and funding the South African participants to visit our country and our rural communities that embrace the concept of Community-Based Natural Resources Management. We also take the opportunity to thank Piet Izak Theron for co-facilitating and taking care of all the logistics during the visit, he is such a humble honest soul. I would also thank Mr. Iretomiwa Olatunji for making sure funding was secured for the exchange trip.” Yours in conservation for our African Continent – Maxi Pia Louis, NASCO Director and Naambo Josephine Iipinge, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Parks and Wildlife, KAZA Namibian Coordinator.


Beneficiaries / Participants

South Africa:

  1. Sibusiso Bukhosini, CEO, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority
  2. Ngcali Nomtshongwana, Project Manager, Land Reform Program, SANParks
  3. Caiphus Ernest Khumalo, Executive Director, Socio-economic Development
  4. Anthony Bekithemba Langalibalele, Director, Responsible Tourism
  5. Variana Tashneem, Advisor, Biodiversity Stewardship
  6. Nhlomulo Solly Themba, Community Facilitator, Kruger National Park
  7. Laurence Bernard Mogakane, Chairperson, People & Parks Program
  8. Koena Francina Cholo, Program Officer, People & Parks Program
  9. Nombuso Mlambo, People & Parks Program
  10. Badova Jobe, People & Parks Program
  11. Mpho Clara Ratshikhopa, Land Reform and Stewardship Officer
  12. Sicelo Kelly Mpemba, People & Parks Program
  13. Koena Francis Cholo, Programme Officer, People & Parks Program



  1. Maxi Pia Louis, Director, Namibia Association of Community-Based Natural Resources Management Support Organizations (NASCO)
  2. Naambo Josephine Iipinge, KAZA Namibian Coordinator, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Directorate for Parks and Wildlife


World Bank Contribution

In 2018, The World Bank in response to the Government of South Africa, through its Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), provided support in the preparation of a new programmatic program entitled “South Africa Rural Development for Biodiversity Conservation around Protected Areas”. The knowledge exchange with Namibia, funded by the World Bank’s South-South Facility, provided additional support to strengthen capacities and technical know-how to promote rural economic development in communities around Protected Areas.

World Bank teams from the Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy, Global Practice , the Governance Global Practice, Development Economics (DEC) Vice Presidency Unit and the World Bank Office in South Africa contributed to the design, planning and implementation of this knowledge exchange.


Moving forward

The knowledge exchange generated interest in future opportunities to share experiences between South Africa and Namibia. An example is exploring ways of fostering partnerships and knowledge sharing between traditional leaders from the two countries.

As part of the next steps, the World Bank is working with the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, SANParks, iSamangaliso Wetland Park Authority and SANBI on a project to further advance the biodiversity economy and key landscapes adjacent to protected areas. The lessons learned from this knowledge exchange will be incorporated into the project design phase of the GEF 7: Biodiversity Economy Project.



New knowledge: The participants gained new knowledge on the type of policies that help create an enabling environment for strong community-based natural resource management (CBNRM). They gained insights into how to design and support community structures; revenue sharing models; how to engage traditional authorities as champions; how to provide training to communities, especially women and youth living around protected areas; managing human-wildlife conflict particularly when wildlife numbers increase significantly. In Namibia, communities have been well equipped to take the lead in the CBNRM program.

Increased coordination: The South African delegation noted the importance of setting up a coordinating body like the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organizations (NASCO). Having a similar coordinating body would add significant value in improving the effectiveness of the programs both at national and grassroots levels. Currently, there is weak coordination mechanism between multiple implementing agencies and stakeholders. Participants reflected on the possibility of using the People and Parks program, under South African National Parks (SANParks) as an overarching body to coordinate community engagement. 

New skills and improved actions: Participants learned the importance of developing a shared vision, goals and objectives in consultation so that it will be more accepted by rural communities and other stakeholders in South Africa. They admired the successful role communities play in anti-poaching and reducing illegal wildlife activities. In Namibia, communities living around protected areas are responsible for conducting game counts as well as contributing to the national wildlife audit system through NASCO. NASCO gathers data from communities and reports the program outcomes using facts and figures in an engaging and easy-to-understand manner for stakeholders and politicians. Participants discussed the value of fostering partnerships and knowledge sharing between traditional leaders from Namibia and South Africa.



  • Ministry of Environment Parks and Wildlife, Namibia
  • Namibia Association of Community- Based Natural Resources Management SupporOrganizations – NASCO
  • Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation – IRNDC
  • The Namibia Tourism Board
  • Namibia Wildlife Resorts
  • Namibia’s Community Based Natural Resource Management, Namibia - CBNRM
  • South Africa National Parks – SANParks


Results Story Author: Twity Mueni Musuva Uzele

Photo Credits: Iretomiwa Olatunji / World Bank