Those who live on the land. A Socio-economic survey for land use planning in the areas of Eastern Otjozondjupa

Eastern Otjozondjupa is located in north-eastern Namibia on the western edge of the Kalahari Basin
Botelle, Andy; Rhode, Rick
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Those who live on the land. A Socio-economic survey for land use planning in the areas of Eastern Otjozondjupa

Subtitle: A Socio-economic survey for land use planning in the areas of Eastern Otjozondjupa
Authors: Andy Botelle; Rick Rohde
Land Use Planning Series, Report No. 1
Publisher: Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation
Soft cover, 17x25 cm, 208 pages, several bw photos

Executiv summary:

Eastern Otjozondjupa is located in north-eastern Namibia on the western edge of the Kalahari Basin, and comprises the former Bushmanland Region and the Gam District.

Until 1960 the region was virtually uninhabited except in the eastern part of Bushmanland where the Ju/'hoansi Bushmen have been living for thousands of years.

Since 1960, four important events have transformed the region from a predominantly Ju/'hoansi, hunter-gathering society, to the present mix of different population groups and a diverse economy combining crop farming, livestock production, cash incomes, food aid, and hunting and gathering.

These important events are as follows:

1. The establishment of an administrative post at Tsumkwe in 1959.

2. The establishment of army bases throughout Bushmanland by the SouthAfrican Defence Force (SADF) and the movement of 4.000 Bushman soldiers and their dependants from Angola and the Kavango Region into the region.

3. The introduction of a resettlement scheme for 2 000 ex-combatants in western Bushmanland by the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (MLRR)in 1990.

4. The resettlement of approximately 1 700 Herero from Botswana to Gam in 1993, and around 500 more in 1994, with assistance from the MLRR. As a result of the ongoing resettlement programmes and the growing demands of these different population groups, the MLRR is in the process of developing a land use plan for the region of Eastern Otjozondjupa. This report has been commissioned by the MLRR and describes the socio-economic conditions in Eastern Otjzondjupa.

The findings of this baseline questionnaire survey will be combined with a separately commissioned environmental assessment and a groundwater survey. Together these will form the basis of a comprehensive land use plan. This report describes the history of socio-economic development in the region, although emphasis is placed on the present-day situation. Recommendations are made for positive interventions to improve the social and economic conditions of households in the region.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the research study and the objectives of the land use planning exercise, and explains the difficulty of developing an effective land use plan in the absence of clear legislation on crucial issues such as communal land reform, powers of traditional leaders and conditions for cooperative management. The theme running throughout this study is the importance of full community participation at all stages of land use planning: during research, at the planning stage and in the future implementation of projects.

Chapter 2 provides an introduction to the geography and social economy of the region. Even though there has been a history of resettlement, the region is rich in natural resources and has not suffered from decades of overgrazing, deforestation and inappropriate development projects. As a result, decision-makers find themselves in a unique position: they have the opportunity to create a sustainable development plan based on the mixed economy and a strong natural resource base.

Chapter 3 discusses culture and history as vital elements in the land use planning process. Despite their divergent histories, the different Bushman groups are culturally homogenous relative to neighbouring Bantu-speaking populations. Their strong social networks give individuals access to resources over a wide geographical area, tying them into a broad system of social support which in turn serves as the main arena for political and social negotiation. A comparison between Herero and Bushman systems of land tenure reveals that while their systems are similar, conflicts arise as a result of their different leadership structures and opposing economic and land use activities. Furthermore, Herero pastoralists tend not to recognise Bushman rights to land.

Chapter 4 describes the impact of government structures in Eastern Otjozondjupa, focusing on the role of government at the central, regional and local levels. There is little evidence to suggest that the South African colonial government ever administered the region, and unlike other communal areas, no tribal authority was ever imposed on local residents. This anomaly has meant that the legislation pertaining to the 'Bantustan' of Bushmanland has never been repealed. Today government presence is felt mainly through the resettlement schemes administered by the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (MLRR), and through game management strategies administered by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).

Nearly three years after their inception, Regional Councils remain under-funded with poorly qualified staff, and as a result they have had little impact on developments in the region. In order to understand the constraints and opportunities faced by households, a questionnaire was designed to investigate the social economy of households from a sectoral point of view, with indicators including income, sources of food, economic base, land use practices, health, education and community organisation.

Chapter 5 presents the findings of the survey on a regional level, and concludes that households are involved in a mixed economy, although differences do exist between different language groups and between households living in more isolated areas as compared with those living close to larger settlements. It is clear that the social economy of households is influenced by the two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) which operates in western and central Bushmanland, and the Nyae Nyae Farmers' Co-operative (NNFC) in conjunction with the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia (NNDFN) operating in eastern Bushmanland.

These two NGOs have very different ideas about development and leadership. Using the socio-economic indicators presented in Chapter 5, four broad sub-regions have been identified, referred to as 'social domains'. Three of these social domains are located in the former Bushmanland area and the fourth is in the Gam district.

Chapter 6 describes in detail the socio-economic characteristics of the four social domains. The recommendations and conclusions in Chapter 7 are based on the conditions experienced in the four social domains. The most salient points made in this concluding chapter are as follows:

1. Gam and Bushmanland must be considered as different planning units and for this reason it is recommended that two land use plans be developed: one for the former Bushmanland area and another for the Gam district, with the re- incorporation of Gam into the Omaheke Region.

2. Land tenure rights must be reformed and defined to give communities the authority to control the use of local natural resources.

3. All development initiatives must focus on strengthening leadership structures and giving communities decision-making powers to enable their participation in all aspects of development planning and implementation. 4. Serious threats to the continuity of land use planning relate to uncertainty surrounding the repatriation of Herero groups from Botswana, and the potential repatriation of up to 4.000 !Kung Bushman ex-servicemen and their dependants. [...]