Community conservancies are legally recognised institutions. They are registered with the government as not-for-profit companies, and run by democratically elected boards. Each conservancy board has 12 members, elected on a 3 year term of office. Board members meet quarterly, to discuss matters pertaining to conservancy funding, operations and partnerships. Their primary role is to provide leadership and oversight in all matters, to ensure transparency, adherence to the law, and equitable representation and sharing of revenue. They are also key in ensuring the voice of the constituent community is heard.

Good governance is at the heart of community conservation. It affects levels of community support, ensures the quality of security, grazing and other programmes, brings together different ethnic groups in peace, and builds on traditional institutional and cultural practices to promote conservation and community development.

How do we measure good governance?

Each Conservancy is scored annually on a set of governance and performance criteria, to help managers and boards identify areas of strength and weakness. The following criteria are measured:

  • Accountability, representation, transparency and equity (effective AGMs, leadership and community support, institutional registration, composition and rotation of board, revenue sharing bylaws, publication of revenues, reporting to the board)

  • Financial management, donor relations and fund-raising (budget management, audit and follow-up, donor relations, and independent funds raised)

  • Conservancy operations (programme and budget execution, asset management, HR and admin procedures)

These assessments are important benchmarks for enhancing engagement with the community and highlight priorities for NRT support.

Governance scores for nrt conservancies. 2017

What Happens When Conservancy Elders Meet Corporate Leadership Training?

"Just borrow a camel." 

Fatooma Mohammed had been silent for sometime, amid the raucous discussion of all the other, predominantly male, elders loudly debating back and forth the answer to the riddle they had been presented with. She delivered her conclusion quietly and confidently. Everyone stopped.

The riddle? An old man had 17 camels, and has promised to divide them between his sons. The first-born gets half, the second gets a third, and the third-born son gets a ninth. How do you divide them? 

A few colourful solutions had been bounced between the elders, including slaughtering some camels and quite literally dividing the meat. But Fatooma, Chairlady of Leparua Conservancy, had got it. 

"You simply borrow a camel to make the herd 18. Half of 18 is 9, a third of 18 is 6, a ninth of 18 is 2. 2+6+9 = 17. Then you can give the borrowed animal back!"

Her audience pondered this for a second, then erupted in applause. 

This was part of the Council of Elders' Leadership and Management Training, delivered at NRT Headquarters in late March 2017. The Council is the overarching governing body of NRT, made up of the chairmen and women from each member conservancy. Conservancy managers underwent this same training in 2016, and reported transformations in the way they approach their work in the conservancies. However, most of the principles of the training are geared towards a corporate environment, not to mention the whole programme is written in English. The challenge was presented to the facilitators Allan Ward and Heiz Wadegu from Forward Consulting - tailor the programme for an audience in which the majority have no formal education, and don't speak English.

"We've spent a lot of time modifying this program for the Council of Elders... and my expectations have been far exceeded. We didn't expect to have this impact in such a short space of time. Leadership and management isn't about being educated, it's about someone's ability to understand the principles, and how to apply them" said Allan. 

The training covered the principles of leading and managing a team, recognising people's strengths, and how to think 'outside the box' for creative solutions to challenges. The elders also took part in practical activities that challenged their thinking, and in most cases, their teamwork - all met with laughter and enthusiasm. 

"My hope and prayer is that what we've done will allow the elders to be much more effective in their roles within the conservancies, and ultimately have a positive impact on the communities and the wildlife" said Allan   

"This is a wonder." Thomas Leletuk, Chariman Westgate Conservancy. "Allan - you're not a teacher, you're more like a witchdoctor! Not the bad kind! You know how to work on people's minds. I feel like I've seen the light. Now, my community can cook in one pot. We no longer have three-legged chairs, we all have four."

This was the first 3 days in an 11 day programme that was pread over 5 months. Allan and Heiz have since conducted leadership training for the board members of NRT Coast, and NRT West.