The San Indigenous peoples have a very long history in Namibia. In the past, they were mainly nomadic hunter-gatherers, but today many have diversified their livelihoods. More than 80 percent of the San have been dispossessed of their ancestral lands and resources, and now they are some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the country. In the easternmost part of Namibia, San communities have been set up in a resettlement farm in the Donkerbos, where they have some form of tenure over a small range of land. However, they are not allowed to move beyond this land, which goes against their traditional nomadic lifestyle. As a result of this, they have turned to herding and agriculture for their livelihoods.
In addition to this, the harsh climate conditions in the Donkerbos settlement mean the San Indigenous communities are struggling to survive. High temperatures, low and erratic rainfall, and water tables at more than 110 meters deep have resulted in water scarcity and low soil productivity. The San depend on two boreholes and groundwater sources, over-grazed pastures, and a diminishing supply of wood resources for their livelihoods.
To address this situation, the ICCA-GSI is piloting a community-based adaptation to climate change project in Donkerbos. The project is introducing the tsotso or energy-efficient stoves to halt unsustainable timber harvesting practices, besides establishing small agricultural plots around the territory with rainwater harvesting facilities to improve food security. Set to be completed in May 2022, this initiative has already empowered women, including them in the Farm Management Development Committee, the tsotso stove production team and the brick-making and construction teams. Amidst traditional patriarchal communities, such behaviour and mindset change in including women in community development affairs is an achievement that many other communities have been unsuccessful with.