San Values and Bioculutural Protocols workshop in Namibia

Delme Cupido's picture


The Indigenous Peoples Rights Programme at OSISA is bringing together our work on San Values and Bioculutural Protocols at a workshop to be held in Bwabwata National Park, Namibia, which will take place from 20 – 24 August 2012.
The workshop is important for two reasons: 1) it will contribute to the establishment of a Khwe custodian committee for maintaining and promoting traditional knowledge, skills and values amongst the youth and residents; 2) it will also serve as a planning session for the proposed bio-cultural community protocol (BCP) in Bwabwata National Park.
The San peoples, such as the Khwe  in Namibia, have had long standing customary norms, values and laws which establish clear rules on how to manage, share and benefit from their natural resources and traditional knowledge (TK). In the work that we have been doing with the Letloa Trust’s Custodians Committee, the  San values project, we are seeing that access to and the utilization of natural resources is key to ensuring the maintenance of the San way of life and livelihood strategies, which is intricately connected with and dependent on access to the natural environment.
In our work with Natural Justice, we are developing the capacity of indigenous communities to use Biocultural rights in order to secure their right to self-determination, as well as protecting the biodiversity on which they depend for food security, fuel and income.  Natural Justice specialises in working with communities on the development of Biocultural Protocols (BCP)  which provide communities with a set of tools which will allow them to articulate their own vision for how these natural resources can best be managed within the framework provided by values which are inherent in the San culture, as well as to protect their Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources.
In August 2011, the IPRP brought together San communities and the organisations which work with them in Windhoek Namibia, to explore whether Namibia’s San communities could see any benefit in adopting  BCPs as a potential tool for their own, people centred and San-driven, development.  At the conclusion of the meeting both the Kyaramacan Association, the Khwe community association in Bwabwata, and the Ju/’oan from the Nyae Nyae Conservancy indicated that they would like to explore the use of BCPs as a means for them to advance their development goals.
In parallel to this, the San custodians, through the San Values Project, had also been working with these communities on documenting and integrating San values into their community leadership structures and their natural resource mamangement.
Working with Natural Justice, we then supported the participation of the Letloa San Custodians Committee in a meeting of the African BCP Initiative held in Accra, Ghana, which brought together African indigenous peoples, including Thadeus Chedau, the San leader and community representative of the Khwe community in Bwabwata National Park, endogenous development experts and civil society actors to share experiences and lessons learnt on the development of BCPs as a key tool in advancing bio-cultural rights of indigenous communities.  This proved to be a real eye opener and an inspiration to the Custodians team and the Kyaramacan Association, who immediately saw the synergy between the work we have been doing on BCPs and the work of the custodians.
As a result of all of this, the Indigenous Rights Programme of OSISA is partnering with Natural Justice, Kyaramacan Association, IRDNC, a Namibian NGO, and the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism to bring together and exploit the synergies between the San values work, and the work on Bio-cultural protocols as tools for legally empowering poor and marginalized indigenous communities supported by OSISA’s work in these two areas.


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