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Culture and Environment in Africa Series

Editor: Michael Bollig

ISSN: 2194-1556

Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Albertus Magnus Platz, D 50923 Köln
Email: michael.bollig@uni-koeln.de

In the Kunene Region in nothwestern Namibia, conservation politics have undergone significant changes over the past 100 years and consequently affected the relations between humans and elephants on a local level. Local inhabitants of the Kunene Region have maintained different kinds of relations to elephants from the last decades of the 19th century to the early 21st century. At first, they were hired as assistants to hunters; under colonial administration, they were excluded from using wildlife as a resource and in the late 20th century they became game guards, managing and protecting wildlife themselves under new conservation guidelines. Especially when it comes to internationally high valued species such as elephants, perspectives on conservation measures differ greatly between a variety of stakeholders. This thesis investigates the value of elephants from different perspectives in the international debate about trophy hunting and elephant conservation and its impact on local perceptions of elephants. The present image of elephants in Kunene is ambiguous. On the one hand, locals seem to support the growth of the elephant population in order to gain benefits (e.g. from tourism), on the other hand, they struggle to live side by side with them. Analyses investigating human-elephant conflicts led to effective interventions in the regions most affected. In that way, any conservancies are able to reduce conflicts involving elephants. To assess human-elephant conflicts and mitigation measures, education about elephants’ behavior is crucial. Using diverse sources, the local population gained a wide knowledge about elephants, their behaviour and measures to be taken to avoid conflict situations. Therefore, the thesis further aims at giving a broader understanding of the behavioural ecology of elephants as well as local perceptions and reactions towards elephant bahaviour.

Band 17: Hagemann, Jennifer: The Value of an Elephant: Conservation Politics and Its Impact on Human-Elephant Relations in the Kunene Region/Namibia

Wetlands constitute some of the most important ecosystems in the world. They provide a number of critical ecosystem services that are indispensable to human beings and to the survival of biodiversities, health and welfare. Despite their importance, wetlands are being degraded and lost more rapidly than other ecosystems. In Kenya, where wetlands cover 3-4% of the country surface area, their rich physical and biological resources have led them to be overexploited and many of these ecosystems are seriously degraded. Wetland management decisions in Kenya are usually implemented by government departments and institutions with very little local community involvement. Based on the understanding that the integration of local knowledge is necessary to formulate adequate management strategies and that local involvement helps to enforce those, this study seeks to capture the value of local knowledge for wetland management approaches as well as for further research work. Specifically, this study focuses on local knowledge of Tugen fishermen on the environmental changes of the Ramsar Site of Lake Baringo in in mid-west Kenya.

Band 16: Deichsel, Katharina: “Our Lake Is Our Farm” : Local Knowledge of Tugen Fishermen on Environmental Changes of Lake Baringo, Kenya

This present study examines the impact of conservancies on community livelihoods and the environment by the example of Impalila Conservancy, a conservancy located in the most north-eastern part of Namibia. The data is based on a literature research, informal interviews, unstructured interviews and 20 semi-structured interviews with representatives of the different stakeholder groups, i.e. the conservancy management, the tourism sector and the community, to assess respective problems and perception of stakeholders within the conservancy setting. First, a survey is given on the theoretical framework of the conservancy approach that is based on the concepts of sustainability, ubuntu/ indigenous knowledge systems and community-based natural resource management. The data revealed that Impalila Conservancy currently does not belong to the successful Namibian conservancies. Deficits, some with different priorities depending on the stakeholder group, were identified at different levels, such as (1) institutional development and governance, (2) natural resource management and conservation, (3) economic conservation approaches and livelihood diversification, and (4) stakeholder relations. These deficits were largely attributed to previous mismanagements.


Band 15: Greven, David: Conservancies and their Impact on Livelihood and Environment : the Example of Impalila Conservancy

Over the past two decades, the number of conservancies in Kenya has increased rapidly in the marginal semi-arid and arid areas in the north. Most of those involved in conservation are pastoral communities who give out their pastoral and agricultural land for conservation. A lot has been researched on conservancies particularly in the Southern Africa region. However, there is the need for more data on Community-Based Conservation (CBC) in eastern Africa and particularly in Kenya. The purpose of this study was to provide a detailed understanding of CBC in Kenya taking the case study of Il Ngwesi Conservancy. Therefore, this study aimed at 1) investigating the social, economic and ecological benefits of Il Ngwesi Conservancy to its members; 2) characterising the institutions and the governance structure of the conservancy; 3) assessing the role and participation of women in conservation efforts in a patriarchal society; and 4) identifying the concerned stakeholders and their interests in the management of the conservancy. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used comprising: a socio-economic survey of 35 households from the seven villages of Sanga, Lokusero, Leparua, Nandunguro, Ethi, Chumvi, and Ngarendare; 12 key informant interviews with conservancy managers, elders, representatives from key conservation stakeholders and women representatives; and informal interviews with the group ranch members as well as elders. The study found out that most of the group ranch members (approximately 5,000 people) bought land outside the group ranch because of establishing the conservancy. Cultivation is the common land use practice on privately owned land, however, livestock production (95%) is the main source of livelihood among the members of Il Ngwesi group ranch. This study found that CBC contributed profound social-economic and ecological changes that would not have been achieved without the conservation efforts. For example, improved education system, security, health, water availability, access to cattle market and employment. According to Il Ngwesi members, pasture management has improved since the establishment of the grazing plan within the conservancy until its collapse in 2015 because of conflicts over grazing land with the members from the neighbouring Samburu group. Il Ngwesi members also claim that wildlife population has increased since the establishment of the conservancy. This is linked to increased security and reduced poaching. However, despite the benefits they derive from wildlife conservation, there are increased cases of human-wildlife conflicts specifically to those members living close to the conservation area as compared to those settled away. The study also found out that men participate more in conservation activities and major decision making of the group ranch than women. Co-management is a key concept to the management of the group ranch because several stakeholders support them.


Band 14: Kuta, Wilfrida Omusheni: Wildlife conservation on communal pastoral land : a case study of Il Ngwesi Conservancy in Laikipia County, Kenya

This study focuses on one small but rapidly urbanizing city in arid northwest Namibia, where urban and peri-urban crop cultivation has been expanding in recent decades, yet the reasons behind this development are unclear. This thesis aims to identify the factors that are driving this change through three analytical lenses: demographic, socio-economic, and environmental. To achieve this, an understanding of the local food system was established both from the consumption and production side. A market survey was conducted, and farmer and agency interviews were carried out during a six-week research period on site in Opuwo, Namibia. The main drivers for crop expansion that emerged from this study include: environmental stressors, population pressure and urban migration; economic savings and dietary supplement; and supporting the informal social safety net. This paper discusses how these closely interconnected and complex factors work to influence the growth of cultivation in this water scarce landscape.


Band 13: Thuening, Emily Mika: Causes of Expansion of Urban and Peri-Urban Crop Cultivation in Northwest Namibia

International, national and local legal frameworks have impacts on elephant conservation and the livelihoods of locals that share their existence with wildlife. Legal frameworks of all levels commodify the African elephant. This gives rise to an ethical dilemma, as what is best for conservation of the species may have detrimental effects on livelihoods, in particular where locals are unable to effectively address human-wildlife conflicts with the tools at their disposal, or where they lack motivation to participate in conservation efforts because the relevant commodity – the elephant – does not economically benefit them. Drawing from two case studies from National Parks in northeastern Namibia, the thesis examines the impact of international actors and CITES decisions on elephant conservation and local livelihoods, suggesting that sustainable profitability for local livelihoods is paramount to ensure elephant conservation is successful.


Band 12: Matinca, Adelina: Human-Wildlife Conflict in Northeastern Namibia : CITES, Elephant Conservation and Local Livelihoods

The relationship between women and energy is more apparent in energy poor communities that use biomass fuel to meet their household energy needs. Women in energy poor communities often have the responsibility of suppling and using energy in their homes due to socially assigned roles such as cooking. A significant number of these women reside in rural areas and deal with the daily constraints of poverty. Hence, access to modern energy such as electricity is an asset that enables women to expand their livelihoods and social status. Micro-hydroelectricity generation is one of the innovative and sustainable ways of using natural resources to provide electricity access to remote and inaccessible communities. This study explores how access to electricity through a micro-hydroelectricity scheme has influenced the socio-economic wellbeing of women in Chipendeke village. Different methods of data collection were used during fieldwork. These include participant observation, interviewing, focus group discussions, free listing and pile sorting. The results show that, electricity access enables women to engage in or improve different livelihood strategies such as chicken rearing projects and refrigerating produce for sale. The value of these activities is evident in their ability to enable the financial independence of women and widen the net of sustenance for households within a rural agricultural based economy. Electricity also plays a major role in improving maternal health services at local clinics and women’s use of communication technologies such as cell phones. In addition, the lighting provided by electricity extends the domestic work hours of women.


Band 11: Whande, Tanyaradzwa Edith: Energy sources, access and women's livelihood strategies : a case study of micro-hydorelectricity access in Chipendeke Village, Zimbabwe

The former conflict-torn area of Northern Uganda has only recently developed  into a ‘safe haven’ for refugees from South Sudan. At the same time, Ugandan state officials picture inner-African migration as a threat to the internal security of the country, and to its Northern region in particular. This thesis is based on an ethnographic study in Northern Uganda and aims to describe how the Ugandan state tries to manage and control the movements of immigrants. Law enforcement practices are illustrated and analysed in case of passport control interactions. Police and immigration officers categorize people into citizens, migrants, refugees or as illegal by making use of documents in addition to digitalised personal data. For this categorization work they further require embodied skills, knowledge and networks that they can rely on. These networks are established between various state institutions. But they also appear informally between officers and immigrants, and often involve payments that are commonly referred to as corruption. This study tries to understand networking practices from an emic point of view, whereby it combines perspectives from multiple actors. On the one hand, it presents state agents and various challenges they face during work, while on the other hand it portraits the experiences of inner-African immigrants in Northern Uganda. All in all, the thesis concludes that while the Ugandan state tries to maintain the security of the country through new policies, their practical implementation often increases the insecurity of immigrants.


Band 10: Sowa, Katrin: Street-level bureaucrats and passport networking : practices of immigration law enforcement in Northern Uganda

In the past two decades in Uganda, there has been an upsurge in the use of herbal medicine in both rural and urban communities. As a consequence, many medicinal plants have been over-harvested, resulting in the increased risk of extinction of specific medicinal plants, yet herbalists report that some medicinal plants have become extinct. In spite of the medicinal plant resource being constrained, herbalists have continued to dispense herbal medicine to meet people’s healthcare needs. This study, conducted in Kawete village, explores how herbalists are coping with the extinction of medicinal plants to sustain the use of herbal medicine. Anthropological methods such as participant observation, interviews, focus group discussions, free listing and review of documents were used to collect data. The herbalists in Kawete village demonstrate profound knowledge about the concept of extinction in relation to medicinal plants. They perceive the extinction of medicinal plants at two levels, the physical level and the intellectual property level, and they identify a range of indicators of the extinction of medicinal plants. The causes of the extinction of medicinal plants emerge from both the community and the herbalists themselves. However, herbalists have adopted several coping strategies, including the cultivation of medicinal plants and creation of collaborative networks to address the challenge of medicinal plants becoming extinct. At the same time, various stakeholders support the herbalists in Kawete village in various ways to address the challenge of the extinction of plants of medicinal value.


Band 9: Kigenyi, Joel: Coping with resource extinction: the case of medicinal plants in Kawete village, Iganga district, Uganda

One very popular field of investigation in hunter-gatherer research is normative sharing as a means to sustain egalitarian structures within hunting and gathering societies. It has been hypothesized that such sharing practices may inhibit economic development in these societies as they are based on immediate-return strategies. In a world that is increasingly based on delayed-return subsistence and long-term planning the sharing norms that are widely associated with the San groups of Southern Africa may be an obstacle to their economic performance. However, it remains to be evaluated to what extent such norms are still a part of their daily life and whether their sedentarization together with other groups has caused a change in their sharing behavior. Looking at two Namibian resettlements with a considerably large number of San, this case study evaluates the role of sharing among former hunter-gathers in relation to neighboring ‘Non-San’ groups. It finds that there is no substantial difference in the performance and likeliness of sharing between San and ‘Non-San’ in Skoonheid and Drimiopsis, but it continues to play a strong discursive role in both fractions. This dissonance between the absence of normative sharing practices and the continuity of sharing as a discursive tool reveals the actual dilemma.


Band 8: Kempen, Jonathan H. M.: "Sharing is over!" : a case study on sharing norms in the Namibian resettlement projects of Skoonheid and Drimopsis

This dissertation is based on research conducted at a small state-managed conservancy called the Edith Stephens Nature Reserve (ESNR) situated in the low-lying flatlands of the Cape Town metropolis. By tracing some of the complex and varied ways in which different ways of knowing and valuing urban “natures” and practices of conservation co-constitute each other, this dissertation critically engages with the social power relations at work in the continual making and unmaking of Cape Town’s “natural” heritages. In doing so, I argue for recognizing the ways in which Cape Town’s urban “natures” remain entangled with the epistemological, ecological and spatial legacies of colonialism and apartheid. Moreover, by focusing on the ESNR, I explore the current material and discursive practices by the state in relation to urban “nature” conservation. In recent years, the discursive framework of biodiversity conservation was mapped onto ESNR through the state apparatus. At the same time, ESNR was identified as pilot site for an experimental partnership project that was called Cape Flats Nature (CFN), a project that ran from 2002 till 2010 which explored what biodiversity conservation would mean within marginalized, poverty-stricken and highly unequal urban landscapes. By engaging with ESNR’s historically constituted material-discursivity, this dissertation argues that, during this time, a particular relational knowledge emerged which, in turn, co-crafted and configured the emerging poetics, politics and practices at ESNR. In doing so, I foreground my main argument – that urban “nature” conservation, far from only being about conserving and caring for nonhuman lifeworlds, is rather simultaneously about conserving a particular relation to the world, to others and to oneself.


Band 7: Olwage, Elsemi: "Growing together": the politics of knowing and creating an urban commons in Cape Town, South Africa

Anthropology has not dealt extensively with the rapidly evolving agricultural industries currently evolving in the Global South. The increasingly globalized flow of commodities leads to the concentration of capital intensive and dense agglomerations of agro-industries in countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia. Increased production results in changing livelihoods in countries of the Global South. Lembcke's thesis is based on empirical research in one of these rapidly evolving agro-hubs in Kenya, the lake Naivasha Region where since the 1980s cut flower industries have been established. These labour intensive industries brought ten thousands of workers to the valley which then competed for work, space and access to resources, amongst themselves, but also with Maasai pastoralists (who had visited the lake for centuries) and tourist entrepreneurs. Lembcke deals with this dynamic situation and looks in two settlements changing patterns of social-ecological coupling. The thesis was developed and carried out within the context of the DFG funded research Unit 1501 Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in the Social Ecological Systems of Eastern and Southern African Savannahs.

Lembcke, Leonardo: Social-Ecological Change and Migration in South-East Lake Naivasha, Kenya. 2015.

The PhD thesis was written in the context of the interdisciplinary project Human Mobility, Networks and Institutions in the Management of Natural Resources in Contemporary Africa funded by the VW Foundation. In the research project the author focused on the causes of mobility, its manifold forms and its implications for land use change in the Karatu District in Tanzania. The study combined qualitative and quantitative approaches with political ecology as a guiding framework. The key questions that are answered in the course of the book are : What are the dynamics of demographic changes given the demographic history of the area? How is land currently owned, allocated, and managed by different socio-economic groups? What are the socio-economic strategies used by migrants to access land in Lake Eyasi Basin? To what extent has population mobility influenced changes of land tenure systems and land management strategies in the area of study? Are there clear and equitable arrangements for secure land tenure?

Band 5: Silangwa, Florian Sanya Chisawani: Migration and demographic changes : Its implications on land transformation and changing socio-economic development in the Lake Eyasi Basin in Karatu District, Tanzania

The thesis originated in the context of the DFG-sponsored research group Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of Rangelands of Southern and Eastern African Savannahs. The study focusses on an alternative livelihood strategy which (formerly) pastoral households in Kenya’s Lake Baringo area adopted, thereby contributing significantly to our knowledge on processes of transformation in East African pastoral communities. Honey harvesting has been a traditional livelihood strategy among Pokot pastoralists. However, honey was only harvested by a very limited number of specialized people. In recent years a number of development projects propagated the commoditization of honey. It is interesting that apparently communities which – due to ecological givens – did not have a chance to diversify into the direction of agriculture, keenly took the chance to take up honey production. The study clearly shows the enormous potential that honey trade offers for pastoralist in Eastern Africa.

Band 4: Mwaka, Innocent: Bee-keeping and Honey Production as alternative Livelihood Strategies among the Pokot of Baringo County, Kenya

Violent conflicts have haunted northern Kenya – a semi-arid region inhabited by pastoral communities – for some decades. While there have been a number of efforts to manage and suppress violence through army, police or other state actors, non-state actors have become important during the past few years. It is here that this thesis has its focus. During a two-month stay in northern Kenya the “Laikipia Peace Caravan” (LPC) has been studies. The LPC is constituted by about 70 professionals, highly educated members of pastoral communities like the Pokot, Samburu and Turkana. They have formed an NGO which has as its aim to step in immediately once violence is threatening or has happened in order to prevent an escalation of conflicts. In an ethnographic effort the author sheds light at the origins, principles and practices of the peace caravan and analyzes its potential to foster peace.

Band 3: Okumu, Willis: Trans-local Peace Building among Pastoralist Communities in Kenya : The Case of Laikipi Peace Caravan

The Maasai/Kikuyu agro-pastoral borderlands of Maiella and Enoosupukia, located in the hinterlands of Lake Naivasha’s agro-industrial hub, are particularly notorious in the history of ethnicised violence in the Kenya’s Rift Valley. In October 1993, an organised assault perpetrated by hundreds of Maasai vigilantes, with the assistance of game wardens and administration police, killed more than 20 farmers of Kikuyu descent. Consequently, thousands of migrant farmers were violently evicted from Enoosupukia at the instigation of leading local politicians. Nowadays, however, intercommunity relations are surprisingly peaceful and the cooperative use of natural resources is the rule rather than the exception. There seems to be a form of reorganization. Violence seems to be contained and the local economy has since recovered. This does not mean that there is no conflict, but people seem to have the facility to solve them peacefully. How did formerly violent conflicts develop into peaceful relations? How did competition turn into cooperation, facilitating changing land use? This dissertation explores the value of cross-cutting ties and local institutions in peaceful relationships and the non-violent resolution of conflicts across previously violently contested community boundaries. It mainly relies on ethnographic data collected between 2014 and 2015. The discussion therefore builds on several theoretical approaches in anthropology and the social sciences – that is, violent conflicts, cross-cutting ties and conflicting loyalties, joking relationships, peace and nonviolence, and institutions, in order to understand shared spaces that are experiencing fairly rapid social and economic changes, and characterised by conflict and coexistence. In the researched communities, cross-cutting ties and the split allegiances associated with them result from intermarriages, land transactions, trade, and friendship. By institutions, I refer to local peace committees, an attempt to standardise an aspect of customary law, and Nyumba Kumi, a strategy of anchoring community policing at the household level. In 2010, the state “implanted” these grassroots-level institutions and conferred on them the rights to handle specific conflicts and to prevent crime. I argue that the studied groups utilise diverse networks of relationships as adaptive responses to landlessness, poverty, and socio-political dynamics at the local level. Material and non-material exchanges and transfers accompany these social and economic ties and networks. In addition to being instrumental in nurturing a cohesive social fabric, I argue that such alliances could be thought of as strategies of appropriation of resources in the frontiers – areas that are considered to have immense agricultural potential and to be conducive to economic enterprise. Consequently, these areas are continuously changed and shaped through immigration, population growth, and agricultural intensification. However, cross-cutting ties and intergroup alliances may not necessarily prevent the occurrence or escalation of conflicts. Nevertheless, disputes and conflicts, which form part of the social order in the studied area, create the opportunities for locally contextualised systems of peace and non-violence that inculcate the values of cooperation, coexistence, and restraint from violence. Although the neo-traditional institutions (local peace committees and Nyumba Kumi) face massive complexities and lack the capacity to handle serious conflicts, their application of informal constraints in dispute resolution provides room for some optimism. Notably, the formation of ties and alliances between the studied groups, and the use of local norms and values to resolve disputes, are not new phenomena – they are reminiscent of historical patterns. Their persistence, particularly in the context of Kenya, indicates a form of historical continuity, which remains rather “undisturbed” despite the prevalence of ethnicised political economies. Indeed, the formation of alliances, which are driven by mutual pursuit of commodities (livestock, rental land, and agricultural produce), markets, and diversification, tends to override other identities. While the major thrust of social science literature in East Africa has focused on the search for root causes of violence, very little has been said about the conditions and practices of cooperation and non-violent conflict resolution. In addition, situations where prior violence turned into peaceful interaction have attracted little attention, though the analysis of such transitional phases holds the promise of contributing to applicable knowledge on conflict resolution. This study is part of a larger multidisciplinary project, “Resilience in East African Landscapes” (REAL), which is a Marie Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks (ITN) project. The principal focus of this multidisciplinary project is to study past, present, and future thresholds and sustainable trajectories in human-landscape interactions in East Africa over the last millennia. While other individual projects focus on long-term ecosystem dynamics and societal interactions, my project examines human-landscape interactions in the present and the very recent past (i.e. the period in which events and processes were witnessed or can still be recalled by today’s population). The transition from conflict to coexistence and from competition to cooperative use of previously violently contested land resources is understood here as enhancing adaptation in the face of social-political, economic, environmental, and climatic changes. This dissertation is therefore a contribution to new modes of resilience in human-landscape interactions after a collapse situation.


Band 2: Kioko, Eric Mutisya: Poverty and Livelihood Strategies at Lake Naivasha, Kenya : a Case Study of Kasarani Village

The Dâureb, Namibias highest mountain, is one of the most extensively documented rock art regions in the world. However, the rock engravings found in the lower Dome Gorge, on the south-western part of the mountain, remained relatively un-researched. The study aims at describing the rock art of the Dome Gorge, hereby establishing statistical and stylistic distributional patterns. It mainly focusses on describing the sites where combinations of engravings and paintings occur in the same sites (mixed sites).


Band 1: Gwasira, Goodman: A Rare Combination of Engravings and Paintings in the Dome Gorge, Daureb / Brandberg : a potential core element for World Heritage Status