Through a 16-year investment, the USAID-funded LIFE (Living in a Finite Environment) project, WWF, USAID, and other collaborators have assisted Namibian partners to conceive and develop one of the most innovative community conservation initiatives in the world. Today, Namibia's communal conservancy movement continues to grow and deliver development impacts in biodiversity conservation, improved livelihoods, civil society engagement, improved food security and resilience to climate change. Local communities have been empowered to manage resources for their own benefit, which has in turn led to the remarkable recovery of wildlife species, economic growth founded on market demand, partnerships with the private sector, and food security.
More than 16% of the country's surface area is managed by conservancies and one-eighth of its citizen's benefit from the conservancy movement. Annual programmatic income and benefits to community members have increased from nothing in 1994 to over $5.7 million in 2008. The strong linkages between conservation and development have resulted in the integration of the conservancy movement into Namibia's national level development strategies (i.e., National Development Plans II and III, Vision 2030, and National Poverty Alleviation Strategy). Today, the lessons learned from this program are being shared in east and southern Africa and distant places including Mongolia and the Northern Great Plains of North America.
Refreshments will be provided by WWF.