Namibia: Sustainable Cultural Tourism in Namibia


Namibia has one of the world’s fastest-growing tourism sectors and its rich cultural and natural heritage offers an excellent opportunity to spur economic development and improve livelihoods. But sustainable and equitable development through tourism is being stymied by two factors: the unequal distribution of cultural resources and the non-recognition of many communities' history and cultural heritage. The Joint Programme worked to integrate culture into national development policies and programmes, targeting in particular disadvantaged indigenous groups and local communities.

The programme supported the Namibian government to improve the living  conditions of indigenous and rural communities by harnessing their wealth of unrecognized cultural heritage and by building their capacities in cultural tourism and cultural industries.

Special focus was put on training local community members and supporting small and medium enterprises, on building institutional capacities to integrate cultural and natural heritage in development policies and interventions as well as mainstreaming environment into cultural/natural heritage activities.

The programme aimed at three outcomes:

1. To enhance the knowledge and capacity base, and identify and safeguard heritage. 

2. To ensure that livelihoods are mainstreamed into sustainable cultural policies and that standards are made compatible with expected cultural tourism. 

3. To ensure that in pilot sites, social development is integrated in cultural policies to reduce poverty among poor communities, improve their livelihoods and further empower women. 

The programme also supported mainstreaming HIV/AIDS, gender and other cross-cutting issues in interventions aimed at promoting cultural tourism in Namibia. 

Main achievements included:
  • The concept of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) was formally operationalized through the establishment of a system to capture and record ICH. Formats, storage and logistics were pioneered for the first time. The website of the IHC forms a good data-base and marketing tool for heritage utilization. Several publications on cultural heritage were produced and the expansion of the Heritage Hunt inventory produced a detailed, practical document that identifies sites for development, replication and diversification.
  • The legal/policy framework for the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage was strengthened with the elaboration of policy documents and materials encouraging the mainstreaming of livelihoods into policies and standards.
  • Trainings provided advanced skills to 10 senior technical workers in the cultural sector and 300 people learned about entrepreneurial opportunities around cultural heritage by participating in "Start Your Cultural Business" trainings.
  • Environmental Impact Assessments were carried out at all pilot sites at the initial planning stage and updated based on detailed project plans in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.
  • Three pilot projects supporting cultural tourism enterprise creation were completed. 
  • Tourism infrastructures and skills transfer activities helped local communities to leverage the economic gains from the promotion and preservation of their cultural and natural heritage. For example, the programme worked with members of the San community, the last hunters and gatherers in southern Africa, to take a central role in preserving their cultural heritage through the promotion of tourism, including participating in training in financial management and tour guiding.
  • The programme put cultural heritage utilization on the development agenda of regional and local stakeholders, including communities who were also exposed to practical income generating opportunities.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Namibia.



The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 19 Feb 2009 - 18 Feb 2013
Net funded amount $5,976,934
Participating UN agencies ILO, UN-HABITAT , UNEP, UNESCO
National partners Ministry of Youth, National Service Sports and Culture (lead Government Ministry), Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Regional Local Government Housing and Rural Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Mines and Energy
Share |