Good governance is the engine behind resilient community conservancies and community development. NRT member conservancies are managed by democratically elected boards and staffed by local people, often mixing ethnic groups that have historically fought with one another. Well-governed conservancies provide an institutional framework for conflict resolution, build community support and ensure effective security, grazing and other livelihood programmes.
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. Conservancies are scored on:
Accountability, representation, transparency and equity
Financial management, donor relations and fundraising
Representation of women and youth
The average governance score for conservancies increased from 67% in 2017 to 70% in 2018. Conservancies showed improvements in hosting effective annual general meetings, improving operational and communication structures and incorporating balanced gender, youth and elderly representation within their decision-making structures.
The top performing conservancies in 2018 were Ruko (with 92%), Ishaqbini (with 90%) and Il Ngwesi (with 84%), who also demonstrated the most significant improvement in governance in 2018, alongside Kalama and Naibunga conservancies.
Leadership and Management
What happens when conservancy elders meet corporate leadership training?
"Just borrow a camel."
Fatooma Mohammed had been silent for some time, 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 has 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 just borrow a camel” she said. “Add one camel to make the herd 18. Half of 18 is nine, a third of 18 is six, a ninth of 18 is two. 2+6+9 = 17. Then you can give the borrowed animal back!"
Her audience pondered this for a second, then erupted in applause. For the first time in a week of training sessions, Fatooma had found her voice.
She was one of 87 people from the NRT conservancies that took part in leadership and management training in 2017. The groups were a mix of chairpersons and committee members from 31 conservancies, which presented Allan Ward and Heiz Wadegu from Forward Consulting with a challenge.
Most of the principles of the training are geared towards a corporate environment, not to mention the whole programme is written in English. Allan and Heiz had to rethink their approach, and tailor the programme for an audience in which the majority have no formal education, and don't speak English.
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.
So successful was the 2017 roll out, that a further 102 people from conservancies took part in LAMP training in 2018. The impact that this bespoke programme has had on conservancies is incredibly tangible to NRT staff, trainees and even community members.
"We've spent a lot of time modifying this programme for the chairmen and women... 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.
"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."