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

Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. The Namibian government changed the name of the administrative area from Caprivi to Zambezi in 2013. We maintain the use of Caprivi throughout the text as this was the official name at the time of the study.

  2. Due to questionable data, five of the 2009 surveys from Maynui and two from Uibasen were excluded from the analysis, leaving 175 and 67 surveys respectively.

  3. Key informant interview with Uibasen Chairperson, June 7, 2011.

  4. In both conservancies, more recent migrants often reported that they were barred from membership. But the number of migrants is much higher in Uibasen.

  5. The information in this section draws on key informant interviews with Uibasen Chairperson, March 17, 2011; Uibasen Vice-Chairperson, March 9, 2011; Uibasen’s local representative (headman) for the traditional authority, March 13, 2011, and the traditional leader of the #Aodaman for southern Kunene (Ward 7), March 17, 2011.

  6. The following section draws from key informant interviews with Chief Joseph Mayuni, April 1, 2011; two local ndunas, March 28, 2011; Mayuni Conservancy Chairperson, April 5, 2011; and an IRDNC representative, March 30, 2011.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Julie A. Silva.

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Silva, J.A., Mosimane, A. “How Could I Live Here and Not Be a Member?”: Economic Versus Social Drivers of Participation in Namibian Conservation Programs. Hum Ecol 42, 183–197 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-014-9645-9

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Keywords

  • CBNRM
  • Economic incentives
  • Traditional authority
  • Social motivations
  • Namibia