Challenges to Emerging Park Parastatals
The emergence of park parastatals in southern and eastern Africa can be seen as a generally positive development, although we are still learning how to make them work effectively. Several issues are important. Accepting that parks must serve society will define the nature of the business, and given the priorities of southern African countries is likely to shift park goals towards economic growth and employment creation, with biodiversity conservation providing the limits within which this can occur rather then being the only or primary goals. Once this is decided, come the more mechanical managerial issues of how to structure work so that it gets done.
Ensuring that parks deliver what society needs is difficult, as the starting point is a significant philosophical shift in the perception of the roles of parks. Linked to this is the need to define what are legitimate public functions, and which are best done by the private sector, which leads to the task of allocating these roles to the type of agency best suited to perform them: for instance, regulation and monitoring to government agencies, and customer services to private firms.
Governance and accountability are also central issues. This includes the mechanism for linking the park agencies to the political system (eg through a board) without excessive or personalized political influence, and the mechanisms for holding the agency accountability for delivering appropriate value to society.
Improved performance accountability will be related to increasing use of market tests and, where these are not possible, to the clarification of performance expectations through the setting and monitoring of goals. Achieving the latter will require considerable innovation in the design of performance management systems and agency structure, and a key issue will be the decentralization of management to cost/profit centres. Too little emphasis has been placed on this aspect of commercialization (ie how to deliver more with less) and there is almost no analysis of management systems (Reed (2002) and the authors quoted by him are rare exceptions). Although commercialization includes structural and performance issues, it is more commonly perceived as increasing income by commoditizing park resources, and is sometimes associated with outsourcing.
Managing the tension between the institution's own financial survival and societal benefits will be the main challenge here, because the gap between the financial and the economic viability of parks is huge (see Chapter 7), and is complicated to manage. Financial viability is related to the circumstances of an individual organization, where economic viability measures costs and benefits at a societal level. As we discuss below, a park may be financially marginal even where it creates very significant economic benefits. In a few cases, governments are sophisticated enough to make economic investments by subsidizing park finances; unfortunately, this brings with it all the problems and challenges of dumping finances centrally and managing budget-driven organizations (eg Natal, Namibia). However, many governments do not recognize the net worth of investing in parks, hence the widespread decline (eg Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe).
In the remainder of this section we describe the experience of park agencies in the region, to support these arguments and as a prelude to an analysis of their accountability for performance. We aim to introduce important issues such as accountability, institutional design and managerial effectiveness, and to use these as our analytical framework, but are forced to rely on personal experience as these concepts are relatively new and the data to measure them are not available (see Chapter 5).
Zimbabwe Parks: What Made a Government Department Excellent and Why It Declined
Zimbabwe's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management was renowned as an excellent organization. Nevertheless, it was a government department and all revenues were centralized through treasury, disbursed through the annual government budget process and staff were civil servants. It worked primarily for two reasons: in contrast to the findings of Grindle and Thomas (1991), the then Rhodesian government was small, professional, effective and highly responsive to its (albeit narrow) constituency; and for cultural reasons the department itself attracted quality staff and was well managed.
After independence, linkages to increasingly politicized central governance, and the replacement of meritocracy with patronage in the management of staff, steadily reduced performance. By the late 1990s, performance had declined so far that the agency was de-linked from government as a statutory authority (in 2003). The major causes of decline were politicized and non-meritocratic staff management, and the financial and staffing inflexibility of government.
However, it is informative to ask what were the factors that had enabled the organization to perform so well in the past even as a government department. This cannot be completely separated from ethnicity and culture. Zimbabwean whites received advantageous education, and despite the low pay, joining the department was a high-status position in a society that favoured the rugged outdoors. There were hundreds of applications for each ranger post, and of those recruited fewer than half remained after a year's experience. There was powerful selective pressure on staff.
Central to the organization are what Peters and Waterman (1982) call 'loose-tight' properties. Clear goals and standards were set for the organization, with well-articulated policies and performance expectations, with the latter being both documented and part of the organizational culture. All parks had a policy document, which also laid out management goals and development plans, and departmental policy covered many issues ranging from uniform and vehicle management, position descriptions and promotion criteria, to support of the private sector, crocodile management, visitor management, etc. Although far from perfect, and a little primitive by today's standards, this framework encouraged managers to be individualistic and innovative, and stories of how much was achieved with how little were part of departmental myth. Internal competition and performance rivalry was intense, communication was rich and informal, and peer review was regular, positive and powerful.
Yet behind this informality were criteria and systems for promotion, reporting and performance evaluation, containing both objective and subjective criteria. In short, performance emanated from quality staff, a highly competitive but informal culture that worked to clear goals, and a strong moral imperative to conserve parks, backed up by simple but essential financial and administrative systems. The department also displayed strong non-charismatic team leadership, largely independent of political pressures, and much of the department's success can be traced back to this (eg game ranching, Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE), kapenta fishing, crocodile and ostrich industries, elephant management, etc; see Child, G (1995) for a detailed description). A board comprising well-known figures in conservation and the tourism sector also served the department, but no member was a serving civil servant.
Perhaps the major problem was the centralization of income (to treasury), centralized budgets and centralized staffing systems, although these impacts were mitigated by effective administration and the adjustment of budgets or promotions to reflect performance. Despite this, and considerable innovation in the way individual managers used their limited expenditure, it took considerable effort to avoid the problems of bureaucratic budgeting, with budgets still tending to be based on the year before and managers rushing to spend end-of-year surpluses. Less was done to promote tourism than would have occurred had park budgets gained directly from tourism-related services or investments, and tourists were often seen as a nuisance. Tied into the Public Service Commission, creating new posts or eliminating old ones in response to changing demands was exceedingly slow and difficult. It took almost a decade for the department to recruit its first economists. The links between ecological research and park management were largely informal, and opportunities for synergy and the systematic management of biodiversity were lost.
Nonetheless, performance was generally impressive: parks were protected, tourism infrastructure provided, quality ecological research laid the foundation for management decisions (although monitoring tended to be neglected), and the department facilitated others to develop the game ranching, crocodiles and ostrich sectors as well as CAMPFIRE.
The strength of the system was also its ultimate weakness. Like Drucker's examples of the few high-performing service institutions, it depended on the ability of dedicated and enlightened leadership to articulate clear goals and values, focus on these, and improve performance through rich peer pressure, while resisting political pressures and intrusions. In an increasingly politicized and centralized environment, in many ways similar to Grindle and Thomas's generalization, a small, professional technical agency was unlikely to survive. Indeed, the department was centralized and politicized, and with increasing difficulties in attracting and rewarding staff, and non-meritocratic criteria dominating staffing decisions, performance quickly dissipated. Cooperation with the private sector and civil society declined, following the paradox that weaker leaders are threatened by transparency and tend to centralize activities, and the department lost its leadership position in the region.
By the 1980s, Kenya's rich wildlife biodiversity and valuable tourism sector was seriously threatened by organizational failure, with heavy elephant and rhino poaching, deteriorating infrastructure and plant, sinking morale, staff inactivity and corruption. In the early 1990s, and with significant World Bank and other funding, the Wildlife Conservation and Management Department was transformed into the semi-autonomous Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). While this was a bold shift, some people in power were reluctant to make too aggressive a change. A board (15 members) provided formal oversight, but tended to be weak, was dominated by government officials (7) or Ministerial appointees (6), and was subject to cronyism, nepotism and political patronage (Reed, 2002).
Although the KWS supposedly had freedom to retain revenue and more flexibility over staff management, the degree of true autonomy over staffing and contracting was limited. Authority was not explicitly stated in enabling legislation, senior staff were regularly changed by political action, budget ceilings were imposed by the ministry, a government official in the ministry (not the CEO) remained the accounting officer, and bureaucratic procedures hampered contracts and payments. Thus the KWS is not a true test of autonomy in the management of parks agencies, although these problems are symptomatic of many parastatals. Other problems were the breadth of the organization's mandate, and that it was given too much money too fast, without the legal, institutional or managerial capacity to absorb it (Reed, 2002).
The overall impact of massive funding and institutional reform was positive. Management systems and morale improved, workplans were re-introduced, staffing was improved by reducing the establishment and removing non-performers, and training and equipment were provided. Capacity improved immediately, and better security reduced poaching and improved tourism. However, wildlife populations continued to fall outside parks (Ottichilo et al, 2000) owing to poaching and habitat loss and, ultimately, because landholders were given few use rights and the most valued uses (eg safari hunting) were banned. This is an example of the negative power of state agencies.
Considering the massive donor commitment, and the potential for tourism (US$350 million tourism turnover directly related to wildlife and parks), KWS underperformed and remained far from reaching goals of financial sustainability. It shows typical symptoms of a budget-driven organization, with a review concluding that: 'terms were too vague ... and donor- and fund-driven rather than guided by priorities' (TAESCO, 1998). As Drucker would predict for a budget-funded agency, expenditure was not related to added value and many redundant components were retained; while the parks earned 99 per cent of KWS income, less than 25 per cent of expenditure was on parks, with 80 per cent being spent on headquarters and outside activities. It is quite possible that, in response to the demands of the political system and the possibilities provided by central financing, KWS directors were building constituency support rather than cost efficiency or conservation effectiveness. Although some preliminary work was done, systematic ecosystem monitoring never occurred.
KWS also failed on both ends of the financial sustainability equation. Costs grew from US$11.5 million to US$30.3 million in seven years (42 per cent annually), and were seldom related to revenue-generating activities. Revenues increased from US$5.9 million to US$18.3 million, but this was well below expectations and some 10-30 per cent was not collected (that is, it 'leaked'). According to Read (2002), there was much cross-subsidization of non-core activities so that the expenditure deficit doubled from US$5.6 million to US$12 million in a situation where park conservation should have cost no more than US$6 million to US$10 million (Martin, 2003).
Poor performance was exacerbated by centralizing management in the hands of staff who were inexperienced with management systems (mainly biologically trained) and prone, as centralized staff often are, to political manipulation. Key management practices were never introduced; the centralization of emoluments encouraged overstaffing; the perennial problem of procurement slowed action; and staff were not held accountable for carefully described performance outcomes. The corollary is that these very same people might have coped adequately with a decentralized organization and well-defined and incentivized objectives.
South Africa's National Parks Board was created in 1926, the first statutory board in South Africa. With a strong political imperative it was well funded (Carruthers, in preparation). Kruger in particular suffered the worst excesses of budget-funded institutions, building substantial infrastructure in the form of tourism accommodation, roads and offices, employing many staff, and internalizing the management of everything from hospitality, construction and sports clubs to the normal core functions of research and law enforcement. This strong aversion to outsourcing reflected a highly inefficient organization ('t Sas-Rolfes, undated), which was subsidized and managed for the sole benefit of white South Africans. Within the region, the organization was regarded as retrogressive, and was commonly said to use a steamroller to crack a nut.
After democratic majority rule in 1994, the agency was modernized and re-branded as 'SANParks'. It developed a mission statement and strategic plan aimed largely at cultural change and the inculcation of more business-like practice. Although the board remained lightweight, and more politically correct than technically skilled, the key strength of SANParks was its operating flexibility, large asset base and, particularly, an effective CEO who, in turn, was able to recruit strong executive managers and protect the organization from political intrusions. Despite the heavy investment in infrastructure and strong tourism markets, SANParks covered only 80 per cent of costs as late as 1997 (US$50 million). Amazingly, given its asset base, Kruger made a small operating loss (R20 million), whereas its tourism pricing policies neither maximized revenues nor satisfied social objectives; indeed they tended to subsidize richer, whiter tourism (Child, B, 2002a).
However, the situation is improving rapidly, with an internally driven change to reduce the government subsidy, to improve corporate culture and to remove old-fashioned attitudes. Reflecting the differences between old and new management, there was a major internal battle over the acceptability of outsourcing. Once done, this worked well. The revenue from shops increased from R8 million to R23 million within two years, whereas the revenue from a few private concessions reached R5 million in the same period, with a rapid trajectory to R20 million. Seen as well managed, SANParks has been entrusted with some R440 million to use for poverty alleviation (used largely as a social fund in the removal of exotic vegetation), perhaps a harbinger of a new role for well-managed park agencies that extend their reach deep into deprived rural areas.
Nevertheless, the agency is still building tourism lodges, reflecting just how difficult it is to shift from a budget-driven to a value-adding culture. At the practical level, managers still view budgets as a pot of money to be milked, so that cost control remains problematic, and non-value-adding functions are retained out of precedent (eg a large culling unit despite an eight-year break in elephant culling). As SANParks illustrates, park agencies still have a lot to learn about the dangers of unthinking cross-subsidization; the use of cost centres and activity-based budgeting to link expenditure to value-adding activities and to create financial understanding and discipline; and the use of benchmarking and internal comparisons to create performance competition (Child, B, 2002a).
Even in this relatively well-managed and successful organization there is substantial scope to improve performance, with staff often working at cross-purposes and without clear goals.
Only three of the twenty parks have reasonably defined management goals. No parks have implemented systems for controlling performance against these objectives. Parks are seldom audited on their performance in relation to their stated objectives. The weakness of the management system is emphasized by that fact that budget cuts are usually proportional and not linked to a careful assessment of priority activities. In short, the system lacks performance accountability and is likely to be inefficient as a consequence (Child, B, 2002a).
Such managerial weaknesses, so often associated with conservation and public organizations, can also have cultural or political roots. Reflecting global paradoxes and dilemmas, Child, B, (2002a) suggests that the failure to set clear, measurable priorities is costing conservation dearly:
Mirroring South Africa's dilemma between the philosophical position of rich urban societies, and the utilizationist philosophies of land-based communities, Kruger has had great difficult managing the contradiction between the Euro-centric handsoff conservation ideals with the strong, utilizationist South African outdoor culture. It is also transitioning from the earlier 'stockman' period when fire, water and predators were manipulated to increase game and game-viewing opportunities, to a more holistic ecosystems approach. Given these philosophical cross-currents (no less severe in many other countries and a general problem faced by 'conservation') Kruger has been somewhat schizophrenic in the application of resource use policy, allowing staff to pursue their cultural norms of fishing, shooting, gardening and cooking on wood fires, while insisting that visitors adhere closely to Euro-centric ideals (which, in several documents, have a certain purity about them). Similarly, there is a tension between a desire to leave the park in an untouched state, and an understandable discomfort with allowing any resources to go to waste (eg mopane worms, locusts, thatching grass). Deciding generally on the latter approach, management has mollified itself by ensuring that money did not 'soil' this decision by insisting only on personal or subsistence uses. However, at bottom, this is still an economic decision, but is an inefficient one. The overall result is the creation of a highly distorted market place, with plenty of ad-hoc use occurring, but without the benefit of the invisible hand to make these choices effective. Moreover, seldom have the costs and benefit of alternatives been compared, for example between gravel collection inside and outside the park. Use has also occurred in an atmosphere of denial and personal (staff) interest, resulting in inconsistency of purpose and the application of law. Thus, fee-paying hunting was prohibited, yet culling occurred, as did other higher-impact uses, including those prohibited in schedule 1 parks. This illustrates the difficult position in which park managers are placed by the absence of a clear, socially relevant and legitimate conservation philosophy.
SANParks is currently tackling these challenges, and an important general lesson from its experience is that financially driven organizations do better conservation than state organizations, partly because they have more money, but primarily because they can recruit quality staff with a value-adding mentality who drive progressive change from within the organization.
Natal Parks Board (NPB) was formed in 1947 to manage 76 protected areas (6875km2) constituting 7.2 per cent of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province. By 2002, it managed 110 parks. This agency has a good reputation for conservation and for providing recreational opportunities (see Chapter 8). With just under half of its budget derived from own income, and having managed consistently to obtain a good government grant, KZN has a budget of US$5091/km2. This is three times the estimated threshold operating budget of US$1524/km2 (necessary to manage parks of this size using Martin's (2003) model and assuming an average park size of 90km2), albeit noting that this expenditure includes commercial operations and conservation outside 'parks' which absorbs a substantial budget.
Operational freedom has resulted in good conservation, including the re-introduction and recovery of endangered species. These investments have generated economic growth, especially as NPB actively promoted private sector conservation with over 200 conservancies in the Province (Reed, 2002).
The success of NPB stemmed from its provision of affordable (subsidized) wildlife experiences to the white elite (certainly the case 15-20 years ago) and its rapid ability to adjust politically, with KZN Wildlife now focusing on rural communities surrounding parks, and actively promoting its facilities to all sectors of the population. With the removal of direct subsidization of recreational opportunities, there have been large price increases for accommodation in KZN parks. Initially, the agency managed all tourism activities itself, with mixed results. It was good at providing traditional park-based accommodation and services, but was weaker in other aspects. For example, a major investment in facilities at the Midmar Dam failed as the agency was too inflexible to manage seasonal, fashionable business and services. Consequently, there are now numerous outsourcing initiatives and, finally, the message is getting through that parks need much better marketing and tariff flexibility according to season, time, etc.
Assessed from the perspective of institutional economics and politics, government grants were strongly related politically to the provision of affordable accommodation to the ruling elite, and latterly to a good record in community support. However, that such a well-placed park agency, with strong asset base and ready market, is only 50 per cent viable, suggests that it suffers many of the ills of grant-funded organizations, especially the taking on of too many functions. For example, environmental education, research, extension, etc, will never pay for themselves and will probably always require government input.
KZN is certainly an agency with an ability to survive, and to adjust its mandate to the politics and funding priorities of the times. Assuming it does park conservation efficiently, these non-core activities consume two-thirds of the budget, and satisfy political constituencies in a way that is typical of a budget-funded organization. With the data available, we cannot judge if it is a well-managed efficient agency with sound financial structures and tasks well done, or if it is also effective in achieving clearly laid-out goals, unless we also know its performance against clearly defined and measurable conservation and social goals. Fifty-six years after it was formed, 'these goals are in the late stages of development,7 with government insisting that each cent put into conservation is accounted for and allocated to achieving measurable conservation and social goals'. Although KZN is a characteristic budget-funded organization that is efficient, it also suffers the symptoms of such organizations. It would be extremely interesting to carefully evaluate it for effectiveness against clearly defined biodiversity and socio-economic goals.
The Uganda Game Department (UGD) was created in 1926. In 1952 national parks were established, beginning with Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park later that year, and placed under the jurisdiction of a newly created parastatal entity, the Uganda National Parks (UNP). The two organizations co-existed for over 40 years, with UNP responsible for gazetted national parks and the UGD responsible for game reserves, sanctuaries and controlled hunting areas, as well as the management and utilization of wildlife outside national parks and protection of people and their crops and livestock from wildlife depredation.
As a parastatal the UNP enjoyed some freedom from government control, including the ability to retain revenues, most of which came from park entry fees and 'gorilla trekking' fees. Although there is little information available about its revenues and costs, as a whole the UNP was relatively well resourced and managed to remain operational even during the years of civil conflict (1972-1985). Although wildlife populations within national parks suffered enormously as a result of hunting by local people and soldiers on both sides,9 the parks themselves remained largely intact and unencroached. By contrast, as a government department, the UGD was completely dependent on very inadequate allocations from treasury and was unable to maintain an effective presence on the ground, even after hostilities abated and the new government took charge in 1985.
The idea of merging the UNP and UGD arose in the early 1990s, partly in recognition of the general ineffectiveness of the UGD. Initially, the idea was to absorb the UGD into the UNP. This corresponded to a general policy of the Uganda government at the time to 'spin off' agencies and departments as parastatals, which were intended to be largely, if not entirely, self-financing. There was, however, some resistance to the idea. One important issue was that the game reserves and other areas managed by the UGD earned no significant revenues, in part because a total ban on hunting had been put in place in 1985. Thus, it was feared that taking on the UGD liabilities could bankrupt the relatively successful UNP. However, because many of the game reserves were adjacent to the national parks, it was in UNP's interests that it became better managed, and to many it seemed to make sense to bring the areas under the control of a single organization. Both within government and internationally, there was a strong desire to rehabilitate the wildlife sector and revitalize the once lucrative nature-based tourism industry. Throughout the 1960s, an estimated 3000 foreign tourists per week passed through Entebbe airport. Tourism virtually disappeared during the war years, but had begun a slow recovery and had reached about 3000-5000 people per year by the mid-1990s.
The result was a long process of debate, supported by numerous donor-financed studies and workshops. By 1994 the idea of simply merging the UNP and UGD had been rejected in favour of creating an entirely new parastatal entity, to be called the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The process was finally completed in 1996 with new legislation that established UWA and designated it as primarily responsible for legally gazetted national parks and game reserves (wildlife protected areas), and as one of several agencies with powers to control land and resource use in wildlife management areas, which included wildlife sanctuaries and community wildlife areas. To ensure that the new parastatal, with its relative managerial and financial freedom, conformed to government policies and interests, a small Wildlife Department with a mainly policy-making role was established at the same time. The UGD and UNP were both abolished and their staff pensioned off with the option of applying for employment with UWA.
There were high expectations that the UWA would soon earn substantial revenues from tourism. However, unlike some others (eg Kenya, Zambia), the government of Uganda recognized from the beginning that, despite its revenue-earning potential, the UWA would continue to perform non-revenue-generating activities in the public interest and would therefore need a government subvention. The national budget continued to provide modest allocations to the UWA for payment of salaries and other basic recurrent costs. The combined resources from revenues and government subvention were far from adequate by themselves, but the UWA also benefited from substantial assistance from several donors, including US$10.6 million over three years from the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility.
The start-up of the UWA was fraught with difficulties due in part to the very long gestation period. There were power struggles, job insecurity and 'culture clashes' as the management and staff of the UNP and UGD struggled to find places in the new organization. Demoralized, unpaid field staff turned to poaching out of financial necessity and protest. It also soon became evident that the UWA had been launched without sufficient attention to the need to build basic management capacity and systems: the relatively informal and unplanned systems that had served the smaller UNP were not adequate for UWA with its much larger staff and responsibilities.
In 1998 the World Bank concluded that it could not approve the approximately US$60 million investment project that the Uganda government was seeking to revitalize its wildlife and tourism sector, because of the lack of implementation capacity within the main sectoral institutions, particularly the 'flagship' UWA. Instead, the government and the Bank agreed on a three-year, US$14 million 'institutional capacity building' project (of which US$10.6 million went to the UWA), which set specific targets for achieving the institutional 'maturity' needed to justify and manage a large-scale investment project. The project initially supported the recruitment of a highly experienced expatriate executive director for UWA, the contracting of a private firm to develop financial management systems, development of human-resource management systems, and preparation of strategic and operational plans and training. The project was soon revised to finance the bulk of UWA's recurrent operating costs, because of the virtual collapse of its revenues after the killing of tourists in 1999 by Rwandan rebels in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and other security problems, which led to the closure of the Rwenzori National Park and restricted travel to Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks.10 Although the parks have since re-opened, tourism numbers remain low and the UWA remains highly dependent on donor support for both its recurrent and capital budgets.
Despite these and other difficulties (such as repeated dissolution and appointment of new boards), the UWA made significant progress between 1998 and 2001. By the end of the World Bank/Global Environmental Fund (GEF) project, it had made a smooth transition to a national executive director, put in place transparent financial and human-resource management systems, adopted a procedures manual for its board, and developed a five-year overall strategic plan as well as general management plans for six of the protected areas. An area-based model had been adopted in which national parks and adjacent game reserves were managed as single units, and policies were developed for community relations and revenue sharing. Most importantly, staff morale had improved greatly as a result of receiving salaries and operating budgets on a regular basis and a substantial decentralization of decision making to wardens. Based on these achievements and the judgement that the UWA now had the necessary implementation capacity, the World Bank and GEF approved a US$28 million second phase investment project in 2002.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), responsible for managing National Parks in Zambia, was transformed into the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) between 1998 and 2002. In their assessment of existing capacities, Deloitte and Touche (2000) concluded that the NPWS was poorly organized and funded, and failed to achieve most core objectives including community conservation and park management. This stemmed from its highly centralized character, and because political interference permeated the organization and sector. As Gibson (1999) points out, it did not have reliable or audited accounts, and the allocation of safari-hunting concessions and other hunting licences was steeped in patronage and intrigue. There were certainly no workplans, budgets, policies or indeed plans to guide activities.
With wildlife being such an important patronage resource in Zambia (Gibson, 1999), the transformation was filled with intrigue. Junior staff levels were halved to 1000, but it took nearly three years to recruit senior staff. Donors, wary about governance in the sector, held back funding, and for months at a time staff were not paid, the opportunity to translate the excitement of newly recruited staff (released from oppressive conditions) into results being lost.
Unlike the Kenya Wildlife Service, ZAWA is far from being flooded with money. The agency has been able to obtain limited funding where they have convinced donors of their capacity to convert funding into results and, with an overstretched and underexperienced staff, this has often been in cooperative arrangements with consultants (eg resource protection in Kafue National Park; see Chapter 7) or with a clear link between performances and funding. In a marked contrast with the NPWS, which mistrusted and obstructed the private sector and NGOs, ZAWA is actively seeking partnerships at many levels, ranging from lodge operations to the complete outsourcing of parks. Although management systems remain rudimentary, financial systems are now sound and accountable, and there is a desire to introduce performance monitoring systems, if not yet the capacity to do so. Although the quality of management is definitely improving, it is still too early to report on tangible results. Perhaps the strongest indicator of progress in improved governance is that, for the first time in at least a decade, the allocation of hunting concessions has not been associated with intrigue, disputes have mostly been settled in court, and contracts are clear and transparent. Cleaning up the industry is a critical step towards improving performance.
With many of the same staff in place, these improvements stem from stronger leadership, a more commercial outlook that includes financial pressure and the ability (not usually present in government agencies) to raise money from donors or commercial partnerships, and a marked reduction in political interference. With no political party dominating government since the 2001 elections, and with politicians battling with each other over corruption charges, one can speculate that powerful individuals are less able to control the wildlife sector, and that this has left the techno-bureaucrats with more space to perform.
Like Namibia, the separation of park and tourism activities under different government agencies in Zambia proved disastrous to the quality of tourism facilities and the funding of parks. All tourism activities in Zambia have since been privatized, resulting in a significant improvement in quality and rapidly increasing park revenues, as the example of South Luangwa in Chapter 7 illustrates.
Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland
In Malawi, national parks are managed by a government department. This is not viable, and in a situation of scarce resources its performance has declined, with significant losses of wildlife in several of the parks. To combat this, all tourism has been outsourced, and although income has improved, the tourism sector is too small to fund the parks. There are also negotiations to privatize some parks.
In Mozambique, a combination of war, lack of clarity over the administration of parks and wildlife, and inadequate capacity to implement wildlife policy and legislation (Carruthers, in preparation) has left a highly variable but wildlife-depleted environment in which considerable experimentation is occurring, although most effort is still in offices and consultancy reports rather than in the field. Major initiatives, still in the very early stages of development, are the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which is supported by a plethora of donors and NGOs, and the Niassa Game Reserve, which is managed through a business contract that includes government and the private sector, with provision for later community inclusion. With too little wildlife to generate revenues, except for Niassa where the skills and legislation are not in place to use a resource that could fund this 42,000km2 reserve, the positive news is that partnerships are investing in rehabilitating the wildlife resource.
Namibia has extensive national parks, but a critical weakness is that the agency managing them has no revenue base and is entirely dependent on government grants and bureaucratic procedure. The tourism activities in parks are managed by an entirely separate parastatal, which lacks commercial imagination. The result is that Namibia's state wildlife and tourism sector underperforms, with most innovation occurring on private and community land. Subsidized tourism in parks undercuts the private and community landholders. The expansion of park tourism is discouraged by the park agency because this imposes costs but does not increase revenues (retained by tourism parastatal). With so little private sector involvement, imaginative tourism activities are also extremely slow to develop. The overall impact is of reduced tourism flows to the country. With government agencies having no incentives to coordinate and build a national industry, opportunities to build synergies in the sector are being lost. For example, by maintaining tourism to Etosha National
Park at much lower levels than are possible, the number of tourists to Namibia, and therefore the amount of money being spent on tourism on private and communal areas, remains well below potential.
In April 2003, several agency directors and other professionals closely associated with park management in the region drew up the following table (Table 6.1), which summarizes the structure and performance of many of the park agencies in the region.
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