EduVentures' Winter expedition in the Succulent Karoo
The EduVentures programme has been running since 2003 through the National Museum, which is a government institution within the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture. It strives to simultaneously:
- acquire biodiversity data from remote areas for Namibia's natural history collections
- address the issues of biodiversity education
- offer opportunities to disadvantaged children to visit and learn more about nature areas. In this way funding and logistics are shared, thus maximising benefits with less overall input
Identifying potential spin-offs and mobilising these (e.g. taking high quality photos of collected organisms before preservation) are crucial. EduVentures' strategy is to demonstrate that holistic approaches to problem solving and optimisation of resources (funds, time and logistics) are both crucial in view of current financial and staffing constraints faced by various institutions and organisations. The EduVentures programme addresses the above three factors simultaneously by taking secondary school learners on museum collecting expeditions to areas selected for their remoteness and biodiversity interest. During these physically and mentally challenging expeditions these learners assist and participate actively in the collection of specimens (mainly invertebrates: spiders, insects) for scientific purposes, and are exposed to the importance of biodiversity for development. In this way, gathering data for biodiversity conservation, planning and monitoring is combined with an extremely effective and hands-on educational exercise while ownership of Namibia's natural heritage is encouraged. As this is an intensive programme, concentrating on the optimal personal development of individuals, and the sustainability of knowledge and perceptions gained during expeditions, various post-expedition activities are organised.
Up till now, six expeditions have been organised during school holidays:
- Brandberg: April - May 2003
- Huns Mountains: August - September 2003
- Namib Desert: December 2003
- Brandberg: May 2004
- Dikkewillem/Kirchberg: August - September 2004
- Chowagas mountains (Namib-Naukluft Park): May 2005
Funding up till now has been provided by the National Biodiversity Programme (under MET and funded by GTZ) for the first 5 excursions, by the GEF/UNDP Small Grants Programme for 2005 and by the Rössing Foundation who provided logistical and administrative support. A staff member of the National Museum and curator of the Archeology Department, Tharina Bird, acts as programme coordinator responsible for implementing the project, with the assistance of two other staff members, Benson Muramba and Hermine Inana. Since 2005, two consultants assist on a part-time basis to coordinate and improve the sustainability and independence of the programme: Graeme Wilson and Vera De Cauwer.
This project aims to facilitate biodiversity conservation in the Succulent Karoo through building national scientific collections and through empowering learners, students, teachers and local communities of southern Namibia to take an active interest in biodiversity issues. For 2006, EduVentures plans to focus its expeditions on the coastal desert areas. The first expedition of April-May 2006 was done in cooperation with the Namibian Mathematics & Science Teacher Association (NAMSTA) and targeted the coastline of the Sperrgebiet: the "Marine Ranger" expedition. Another expedition will focus on the inland areas of the coastal desert. The study area of the planned activities in 2006 coincides therefore with that of SKEP: the Succulent Karoo. A number of objectives of the proposed EduVentures project are consistent with the objectives of the SKEP Small Grants Fund:
- Raising awareness of the unique biodiversity in the Succulent Karoo by taking learners and teachers of disadvantaged schools into the field, by presenting the expedition results to local communities and by developing a brochure and poster containing the expedition results and contact details of local organisations
- Building human capacity by exposing learners and teachers of disadvantaged schools to the expertise of archeologists, taxonomists and environmentalists
- Acquiring biodiversity data that will contribute to the identification of areas with high biodiversity and high endemism within the Succulent Karoo, which will assist in the formulation of biodiversity priorities
Kowis, Tsaukhaib and Letterkuppe Mountains, Sperrgebiet
N$ 60 000 was approved for the one year period between May 2006 and April 2007. The agreement between SKEP and EduVentures has already been drawn up.
Tharina Bird and Vera De Cauwer
PO Box 1203, Windhoek
Tel: 061 276829