The Ministry of Environment and Tourism under the Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management has over the past 15 years developed an effective monitoring system that helps inform decision makers about the conservancies countrywide.
The Event Book System, a community based natural resource monitoring system replaces the conventional monitoring system which experienced delays in feedback and communities did not understand its format.
What exactly is the Event Book System?
The Event Book is a personalised A5 ring file maintained by each community ranger. Rangers carry the book wherever they go and record information as it comes to hand. The file contains a diary and set of yellow cards – one for each monitoring topic.
There is a card for poaching, a card for human-wildlife conflict, a card for rainfall, and so on. As events occur, rangers select the appropriate card and record the event. The collected data is transferred to a reporting chart on a monthly basis. At the end of each year, the old cards are archived, and a fresh set of cards is inserted into the file. Importantly, the people collecting the data also analyse and interpret it.
For each monitoring topic there is a complete, modularised kit that consists of a data collection card, a monthly reporting chart and a long-term reporting chart. Colour coding is used to avoid confusion between these data-flow levels (yellow for data collection; blue for reporting per month; and red/pink for tracking changes over years).
Community leaders and rangers decide what topics to monitor. To make the final selection of topics clear, a ‘job description poster’ is constructed. Also known as a mind map, the poster contains pictures and icons to assist less literate community members.
To support local design and ownership, yet still provide scientific integrity, the system is modularised by topic. Twenty-one modules, representing a shopping list of potential topics that a community could monitor, have been developed thus far.
Once the conservancy selects what it wants, the technical support team assembles a kit containing these modules. The kit is updated at the end of each year and costs only about US$10 per year.
New conservancies normally start with only three or four modules. Over time, as needs and skills develop, they add more modules, eventually covering a wide spectrum of issues – all at their own pace.
Data analysis is extremely simple. Every month the field rangers hold a meeting and then complete the monthly reporting charts. These are designed as large-format templates that can be displayed at community meetings. The reporting principle is that one ‘block’ on a chart refers to one ‘event’. To report on poaching for example, a block is coloured in for each poaching incident. In some instances one block may represent standard values such as 5 mm of rainfall or 10 animals seen whilst on patrol.
At the end of each year, the totals for the year are transferred onto the long-term reporting charts. These are similar to the monthly reporting charts and use the same method of colouring- in blocks. The reporting charts are presented at community meetings and, incorporating their local knowledge, members reach management decisions through consensus.
According to Josephine Iipinge from the Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management, information from the Event Book System is important in order to meet the information needs of conservancies. The System is currently being used by many conservancies especially those in the Kunene and Zambezi regions. “Incident books in protected areas and Regional Services Offices have now been introduced as a result of the success of the Event Book System in conservancies,” said Iipinge.
She added that the Incident books form a major part of the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Monitoring and Evaluation system and were developed in order to capture data from annual reports of all conservancies in the national database.
Iipinge says that the value of local level monitoring should not be underestimated as annual reports of conservancies do not only influence higher level decision makers in government but also donor agencies and Non Governmental Organisations.
“Decision makers are interested to know what type of technical support each conservancy needs in order to allocate sufficient budget. Decision makers are also interested in using information from annual reports to set wildlife harvesting quotas for conservancies and at regional level. Moreover, local level monitoring is important for decision makers to monitor if annual harvest of various species within the sustainable limit is being adhered to,” Iipinge highlighted.
She further noted that monitoring helps to assess the performance of hunting and tourism concessions and help with backing up decision making to support adaptive management tools.”Most importantly, monitoring helps assist decision making in compliance and to inform the development and review of national policies such as the CBNRM and the Human Wildlife Conflict Self Reliance Scheme. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has the legal power to monitor and intervene in every conservancy,” said Iipinge.
Local level monitoring according to Iipinge requires funding to maintain the system for developing conservancies hence cost effective analysis of the system needs to be done. For this, Iipinge says an integrated and holistic approach is needed to improve local level monitoring and expand data capturing of all aspects of enterprise and institutional monitoring such as HIV/AIDS, farming and rangeland management as well as natural resources.
Delegates attending the 11th session of the Conference of Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD) will have the opportunity to see first hand the activities of local level monitoring by farmers in the Ovitoto community, an area prone to frequent drought re-occurrence and serious land degradation. Communities in Ovitoto have been trained to collect and record data on rainfall, field conditions, livestock conditions as well as the availability of fodder.
According to a farm mentor in Ovitoto, Israel Hukura, the community has been involved in monitoring for the past 3 years and the results of the annual reports have helped the farmers practice rotational grazing to improve their land. “The reports recorded depleted land as a result of over stocking. It was difficult at first to convince farmers to sell their livestock but soon decided to de-stock after many of their livestock kept dying due to the drought,” said Hukura.
Date: 20 September 2013