13 Reasons Namibia Is A World Leader In Joint-Venture And Community-Based Tourism

Written by Dana Sanchez

One of nine children, Lena Florry was a Namibian goat herder who spent the first half of her life barefoot. That was her destiny, she thought.

Then, 20 years ago, a safari camp was built near Lena’s village, and she applied for a job as a waitress. Within a year, she became an assistant manager. A year later, she became Namibia’s first black lodge manager, according to a 2012 HuffingtonPost report.

Tourism has transformed the lives of thousands of Namibians and turned them into conservationists.

With the world’s highest population of cheetahs, Namibia also plays host to thriving elephant and rhino species. It’s one of a few African countries supporting six species of large carnivores — lions, spotted hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and brown hyenas. Tourists interested in volunteer-based holidays contribute to various research and education programs and help support nature conservation financially.

Namibia has undergone a conservation revolution and in the process, generated jobs and income for thousands of rural residents through safari tourism.

Empowered by their constitution, Namibians exchanged generations of poaching, wildlife conflict, and unsustainable land use for unparalleled levels of habitat protection, wildlife conservation and sustainable development, the HuffngtonPost reported.

Central to Namibia’s conservation revolution is communal conservancies that give neighboring communities the right to oversee wildlife and natural resources on their communal land.

Thanks to innovative legislation, the Namibian government gave these rights to the conservancies with the understanding that rural communities will use natural resources in a sustainable manner if these resources have sufficient value and benefit.

Ground-breaking legislation in Namibia in the mid-’90s laid the foundation for this new approach to natural resource management and conservation. By forming conservancies, people in communal areas can actively manage and generate returns from natural resources. This supports environmental restoration, and wildlife populations have increased.  As a result, economic benefits have grown for local people through tourism.

Lena was promoted to regional manager, overseeing operations of three safari camps in her conservancy, and she led a team of 200 community members working there.

Here are 12 reasons Namibia is a world leader in joint-venture and community-based tourism.

Sources: Linking Tourism and Conservation, TourismUpdate, HuffingtonPost, CommunityConservationNamibia. NACSO,