Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 183–197 | Cite as

“How Could I Live Here and Not Be a Member?”: Economic Versus Social Drivers of Participation in Namibian Conservation Programs

  • Julie A. SilvaEmail author
  • Alfons Mosimane


Economic goals form a critical component of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) programs, but many studies question whether these initiatives actually deliver economic benefits to local communities. This presents a puzzle regarding why rural residents remain in CBNRM programs, and raises the possibility that non-economic incentives also influence participation. We address this question in a study of two Namibian communal conservancies, analyzing survey and interview data collected between 2009 and 2011. We find that economic incentives explain participation in one conservancy, whereas social motivations take precedence in the other. Our findings indicate that strong attachment to place and preferences for social cohesion can motivate people to comply with CBNRM even when economic incentives fail to materialize.


CBNRM Economic incentives Traditional authority Social motivations Namibia 



The authors thank Stewart Duncan, Martha Geores, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We also thank Nicole Motzer, Michael Strong, and Zan Dodson for their research assistance, as well as the residents of the case study communities for their willingness to participate in this study. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number BCS 1042888. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors accepts all responsibility for any errors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of NamibiaWindhoekNamibia

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