Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation
Pioneering African Community Conservation
Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) is one of Africa’s most accomplished conservation organizations. Starting in the 1980s, IRDNC pioneered new approaches of working with rural communities in Namibia to protect rhinos and elephants. A decade later, that provided a key foundation for policy and legal reforms that established communal conservancies. Since then, IRDNC has played a lead role, working with NACSO and other Namibian and international partners, to support the growth and development of conservancies across much of Namibia.
IRDNC is the lead facilitator of communal conservancies and related natural resource management initiatives in both the desert landscapes of northwestern Namibia, and the floodplains and woodlands of northeastern Namibia. The latter area, which lies adjacent to Botswana’s Okavango Delta, makes up a key component of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), a vast landscape spanning five countries and dozens of state, private, and community conservation areas. KAZA is home to perhaps one-third of all the elephants in Africa, and conservancies and surrounding lands in Namibia, where IRDNC’s Zambezi Region program is based, play a central role in enabling elephants and other wildlife to migrate across this landscape.
Area of IRDNC-supported conservancies
Income earned in 2017 by over 1,000 community members, mostly women, in nine conservancies in northeast Namibia though IRDNC’s indigenous plants program. These sustainably harvested plants (pic-tured on right) are used to make cosmetics, lotions, and other natural products that are sold in Namibia and internationally.
Restoring Lions through Community Conservation
The spread of conservancies in northwest Namibia since the mid-1990s, when they were largely confined to Etosha National Park, is a strong example of how conservancies have contributed to wildlife recoveries. Lion numbers have grown from about 25 in this region, to over 150, as a result of the recovery of prey species, growth of wildlife tourism, and improved protection of wildlife.
-Source: NACSO. 2016. The state of community conservation in Namibia - a review of communal conservancies, community forests and other CBNRM initiatives (2016 Annual Report). NACSO, Windhoek.