Community-based Natural Resource Management, Poverty Alleviation and Livelihood Diversification: A Case Study from Northern Botswana

12 July 2011

Does tourism benefit local people? It’s the age-old question, and the answer is, well, yes and no. Member Caitlin Lepper of Conservation Concept spent three years asking this very question and drilled down to bring us a fascinating set of data and insight on the household benefits of Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) in the form of tourism. This is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary studies on sustainable development or those implementing such practices in their operations.

Caitlin spent three years living, working and learning in the northern concessions of the Okavango Delta from 2004 - 2007. Her resultant Masters degree in Protected Areas Management at University of Kwa-Zulu/Natal, South Africa focused on community-based natural resource management. This paper presents a case study from Ngamiland, northern Botswana, where community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) has been implemented through an ecotourism joint venture between a community-based organization (CBO) and the private sector.

CBNRM is intended to promote sustainable development, by contributing to local poverty alleviation and livelihood diversification through wage employment and CBO fee revenue. An evaluation of the significance of wage employment revenue and consequent remittances in the specific case study is intended to contribute to existing studies which have primarily emphasized the contribution of CBO fee revenue only to households. It is concluded that wage employment revenue makes a significant contribution at a household level to localized poverty alleviation and livelihood diversification compared to the insignificant contribution of CBO fee revenue. Consequently, the objective of sustainable tourism development is only partly met by these community benefits and should be addressed more assertively by local government and council.

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