In August LEAD held two half-day Awareness Raising Meetings/Information Sessions on Wildlife Crime and Natural Resource Management in the Kunene Region, with 40 participationg Traditional Authorities in Opuwo.
The following topics were presented:
- Wildlife Crime as Organized Crime including Poaching statistics,
- Global and local trends,
- role of Organized Crime in poaching and International Wildlife Trade,
- Namibian legislation, fine adjustment, raising community awareness in assisting law enforcement
- followed by a screening of the LAC film Baxu and the Giants. The sessions ended with an
- Introduction into the role of traditional authorities in Natural Resource Management, with a focus on the relevant legislation
- Traditional Authorities Act with the regulations and the “Role of Traditional Authorities in Promoting Sustainable use of Namibia’s Natural Resources“
- Environmental Management Act and the relevant regulations.
- Communal Land Reform Act with the regulations and discussion on Illegal Fencing. See also our publication on the topic.
The presentations were followed by discussions, centering around illegal fencing, illegal grazing, overgrazing, sand mining, creation of dump sites, refusal of people to remove illegal fences etc, rights of Traditional Authorities to enforce a judgment.
While being thankful for the efforts of the LAC participants felt the time allocated was too short and far more training and information would be needed.
Participants raised specific questions on lawfulness of non-locals to reside and bring grazing animals to area under their jurisdiction.
Some TAs were not aware about their role in respect to assisting police to enforce judgments. Some TAs complained about court rulings being done yet no enforcement taking place (removal of fences etc) and also that whenever they raise issues to regional or central government, they are ignored and they do not know how to deal with that.
Other issues mentioned were boundaries of constituencies and disputes over boundaries.
Lack of laws being translated into local languages creates difficulties for the stakeholders, role players to understand their role and functions and hence hinder efficiency in delivering service and good governance.
The second session was held at Otjimuhaka, with 25 community members (Kunene River Conservancy, Kunene Region).
Presentations were the same as in Opuwo.
The chairperson of the conservancy (Kunene River) also highlighted the need for more community awareness.
Questions from the floor all centered around the same issues as in the Opuwo meeting:
Are Namibians allowed to settle anywhere, and if so, on what land?
Questions on preventing overgrazing, authority of unrecognized (not recognized by government) headmen/chiefs vs those which are recognized by government,
and appointment and permits given by central or regional structures without involving, including village structures in the process.
The overall sentiments after the 2 information sessions was, that the meetings/sessions should be longer (3-5 days).
The 2 meetings served as ideal learning opportunity for further information sessions with other communities.
In response to these meetings we are planning future meetings of same nature/topic in the Omaheke Region, Oshana and Omusati Region.
We wish to express our gratitude to our sponsor Brot fuer die Welt for these undertakings with whom this would not have been possible.
The head of the PGs Wildlife Crime unit responded:
“This is quite a noble idea to raise awareness from the targeted group of offices who enjoy a lot of authority and respect from their communities. Most importantly they will be happy to know that their positions in society are very important and have crucial roles to play in the fight against wildlife crime.” – Jatiel Mudamburi 25 August 2020