An article in the Namibia Economist last week indicated that the Ju/’hoansi in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy are using donated funds to build stone walls around village water facilities to protect them from elephants.

Elephants in Namibia
Elephants in Namibia ( Photo by Frank Vassen on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The Conservancy has around 18 water points which need to be shared among the human residents and about 1000 – 1500 elephants. The rock walls—about two meters high—are completely elephant proof, so once the boreholes, water storage tanks, and equipment are all protected from the big animals, the villagers can invest in projects that require secure water such as agriculture and livestock.

Three villages are receiving the funding to build the walls from two sources: the Green Climate Fund and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia. The former is an international development funding agency headquartered in South Korea. It invests in projects that seek to counteract the effects of global climate change in the developing countries.

The drought that has affected all of Namibia has stressed wildlife searching for water, which has had an impact on the gardens that the villagers have been trying to protect. The GCF/EIF funded project will also service and overhaul all the village boreholes in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy during the coming year.

Women doing craft work at a San village in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy
Women doing craft work at a San village in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy (Photo by Gil Eilam on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The news story last week updates a report in this website from April 2017 that described in some detail the development of water resources in the Ju/’hoansi San villages and the importance of protecting them from harm. The Ju/’hoansi used to move about following the natural availability of water but now that they have settled into permanent villages, they clearly need secure sources of it.

That 2017 report indicated that one solution to the conflict between elephants and the villagers’ need for secure water was to provide water for the animals with the hope that they would not be as inclined to harm the facilities in the villages. To judge by the news story last week, it appears as if the Conservancy is now focusing on effectively preventing the elephants from approaching the water facilities. It’s the only strategy that really works.