Following a public outcry on the policy on human-wildlife conflict in Namibia, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has revealed it is in the process of revising the policy that deals with losses incurred to wildlife.
Affected communities and farmers particularly in the Kavango and Zambezi regions want the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to review laws pertaining to human-wildlife conflict, claiming the current laws are “colonial” and promote poverty among communal farmers.
Further, they complained that communal farmers are subjected to meager compensation while commercial farmers are not eligible to compensation should their crop fields or livestock be destroyed by wild animals.
But the ministry’s spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, yesterday confirmed to New Era that they are busy with an in-house process to review the policy before they engage any external stakeholders for input.
He admitted the ministry has of late received several requests from the public asking compensation for damages caused to human lives and property by wildlife.
However, he said, currently government does not have a policy that offers direct compensation to individual farmers or communities due to the complexity of a compensation scheme.
Currently people in communal areas are reimbursed N$800 for every half hectare destroyed by elephants or hippos.
While for livestock, N$1 500 per cow, N$500 per horse, N$200 per goat and N$250 for a sheep or pig is paid out. He said the figures would also be revised.
Moreover, he said, if a person is killed in a human-wildlife conflict scenario, the family is compensated N$5 000 towards funeral costs.
The farmers bemoaned that overall such payments are peanuts, as they will not be able to continue farming, whether it is with livestock or crops, because they cannot afford to replace the lost crops or livestock when compared to the market prices.
Muyunda said the ministry finds it extremely difficult to evaluate crop and livestock losses.
“How would you know if a hectare is equal to N$10 000? It’s not clear how you will determine such losses. How can you put a price to a human life? There is no price for a human life. These are some of the challenges that make it difficult for us to evaluate losses. We are now looking at the possibility of having a fully-fledged insurance scheme that will cover the human lives lost and injuries sustained. The ministry also intends to look at another insurance scheme that will cover livestock losses,” he explained.
He said there is a need to find other means to offset the losses caused by wildlife and at the same time build self-reliance of farmers.
“It is for this reason that a strategy on Human Wildlife Conflict Self Reliance Scheme is incorporated in the National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management approved by Cabinet,” he said.
According to him, the ministry intends to review its strategic approaches in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.
“We also intend to review our approaches and strategies for mitigation and preventative measures to make them more targeted and specific,” he noted.
Wild animals, especially elephants, have in recent months caused huge destruction as they move towards homesteads and rivers in search of food and water.