Community based natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes aim to achieve the joint objectives of biodiversity conservation and improved rural livelihoods by providing incentives to sustainably manage relevant resources. Since 1998, more than 50 natural resource management institutions, known as conservancies, have been established in order to manage wildlife resources, on communal lands in Namibia. The national programme is often cited as a CBNRM success; however, despite its rapid spread, there are few systematically collected or analysed household-level data which demonstrate the long-term ecological, social and economic impacts of Namibian programme. A meta-synthesis was undertaken to determine the range of positive and negative livelihood impacts resulting from CBNRM programme activities in two key regions, and the factors affecting how these impacts have been felt by households or individuals. Impacts were categorized according to any changes in access to and/or returns from the five key assets of the sustainable livelihoods framework, namely financial, human, natural, physical and social assets. Positive and negative impacts were felt on financial, human, natural and social assets; only positive impacts were identified as affecting physical assets. Individual- and household-level impacts differed depending on the specific activities implemented locally and, according to the duration, frequency and timing of the impacts, the circumstances and preferences of households and their access to particular activities and consequent impacts. If a greater understanding of the extent and importance of different impacts is to be gained in the future, more rigorous and comprehensive data collection and analysis will need to be undertaken. Analyses will need to consider the whole range of activities implemented, both the benefits and costs associated with these different activities, and will also need to provide contextual information to allow the relative importance of impacts resulting from CBNRM activities to be better understood.
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