In the middle of the Zambezi region in northeastern Namibia the Collaborative Research Center 228 (CRC 228) „Future Rural Africa“ launched its cooperation with UNAM and other local partners with a workshop in Katima Mulilo. With about 80 participants the event took place on the 14th and 15th of at the local campus of the University of Namibia. It was conducted under the patronage of the pro-vice-chancellor for research, innovation, and development of the University of Namibia, Prof. Dr. Kenneth Matengu, and the governor of the Zambezi region. In addition to the scientific cooperation partners, a large number of experts from development and nature conservation organizations attended the workshop. The joint project, which is termed for 12 years, has a regional focus on the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), a conservation area in Namibia comparable with the size of France. The research project aims to include a variety of national institutions like the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Namibia (MET), nature conservation organizations like the WWF or the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), and development organizations like GIZ or KfW.
After a keynote of CRC spokesperson Prof. Müller Mahn, the different CRC projects were presented and discussed extensively with the local experts. On that basis, the future work with the Namibian partners was coordinated and translated into concrete research plans. The variety of participants, bringing in different experiences and expectations, will surely result in an interesting project in the years to come. Especially the African partners are keen to work with the research perspective of “Future-making and social-ecological transformation”. The CRC workshop was directly followed by a conference, held in the Namibian capital Windhoek, of the International Geographical Union (IGU).
For the scientific members of the CRC and particularly the 14 PhD students and post-doctoral students who want to work in Namibia, the workshop also made it possible to create initial contacts with local partners. These contacts not only resulted in joint project activities mentioned above but will also make it possible for all PhDs to be well prepared for the anticipated fieldwork. The CRC “Future Rural Africa” that addresses the intricate relationship between future-making and social-ecological transformation, works in Namibia as well in Kenya and Tanzania.