Socio-economic impacts of a national park on local indigenous livelihoods: The case of the Bwabwata National Park in Namibia

Paksi, A., & Pyhälä, A. (2018). Socio-economic impacts of a national park on local indigenous livelihoods: The case of the Bwabwata National Park in Namibia. Senri Ethnological Studies99, 197-214.

Read (PDF): http://doi.org/10.15021/00009127

Abstract

Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is a conservation model that, contrary to the conventional top-down protected area management approach, aims to merge biodiversity conservation with community livelihoods. That said, the actual contribution of CBNRM to local livelihoods remains contested. Using a Sustainable Livelihoods Framework to analyse empirical data
from the East Bwabwata National Park (BNP East) in Namibia, we assess the contribution of CBNRM to rural income development relative to other revenue sources. We identify four main livelihood strategies related to income: (1) formal employment, (2) seasonal employment, (3) occasional cash income, and (4) social safety nets. Our results indicate that the largest income contribution to residents of BNP East comes from non-CBNRM-based formal employment (45.06%) followed by social safety-net benefits (33.83%). CBNRM-related income accounts for less than a quarter (21.11%) of annual household incomes, whilst also displaying the highest vulnerability. We advocate for greater diversification of income sources, including that from CBNRM. In order to ensure socio-ecological justice and sustainability of both livelihoods and the local natural resource base, we conclude by emphasizing the need to ground the CBNRM model in its core principle of community control over decision-making processes that impact the local environment.