The Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET), Pohamba Shifeta yesterday re-appointed five board members of the Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF).
The five re-appointed board members include the GPTF chairperson, Louisa Mupetani, vice-chairperson Chris Classen and three ordinary members, Albertina Musilika-Shilongo, Likukela Busihu and Asser Ujaha.
Shifeta stated the five were reappointed based on their outstanding performance, as they largely implemented projects that have had a positive impact on conservation, wildlife management and rural development in various areas.
Out of the total monetary value of N$64,9 million for projects that were approved for funding for the period of 2012- 2015, the board managed to disburse N$50,43 million to applicants, who benefited in terms of livelihoods improvement as they depend directly on the environment for their survival.
According to the June 2015 GPTF performance report, the investment of over N$50 million in the local economy, though negligible, has contributed to the creation of employment opportunities in the secondary sectors.
GPTF has funded various projects that required some form of construction work to be done and this has had some positive economic spinoffs by creating temporary employment for a number of people.
“Even though it cannot be easily verified by making a direct link to the funding that was advanced by the GPTF, wildlife numbers in many parts of the areas where projects funded by the GPTF have been implemented have increased,” the report stated. The report attributed this increase to the wider acceptance of wildlife by rural communities, due to the fact that they have become more tolerant of wildlife since they are compensated through the Human-Wildlife-Conflict Self-Reliance Scheme facilitated by the GPTF.
“We are re-appointing the board as we feel they are compatible and are doing well. They are taking care of the fund and ensuring that resources are taken into account for the benefit of communities,” Shifeta stressed.
The board, which was re-appointed for the next three years, also managed to ensure communities make provision for water to wildlife through the construction of water points and the improvement in wildlife crime prevention and protection techniques, which are believed to have contributed to an increase in the numbers of wildlife.
GPTF also established local tourist centres, which present an opportunity for communities to derive income from the operations of the centres through dividends, especially when they enter into partnerships with investors. Shifeta urged the members to continue working harder to ensure that rural development is carried out taking into account the needs of communities in supporting conservation.
“Since we don’t have a lot of donors and the communities need to do conservation, we then need to give them incentives so they don’t abandon conservation. We have a drought in the country, so we also need to see how we can mitigate the effects of climate change,” Shifeta said.