The Kalahari Peoples Fund

Since its inception in 1973, KPF has responded to several requests for help made by San, Nama, and other rural southern African communities by raising funds and providing technical and advisory assistance. San and other Kalahari peoples are having to cope with rapidly changing conditions as populations have grown and development programs have expanded. Political, economic, and environmental conditions have changed significantly, and local peoples have undergone transformations in how they live and interact, both among themselves and with the governments of the states they live in.

There are currently nearly 90,000 people who see themselves as San in southern Africa; half in the Republic of Botswana, and a third in Namibia. San are also found in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Some of these people face economic difficulties, in part because they have not been able to take advantage of the opportunities offered their fellow citizens due to remoteness, insufficient information about the availability of funds, or lack of technical assistance. Others have to cope with problems of poverty and a lack of land tenure and security.

Help provided by KPF has taken several forms. The group has provided an anthropologist to act as liaison between local people and government agencies in Ngamiland, Botswana. KPF also funded an agricultural advisor to the people of Ngamiland. Scholarships have been established so that children can attend school. KPF has also made available small grants to organizations undertaking community projects, such as an irrigation scheme in a southern Namibian Nama settlement.

Present KPF projects include curriculum development, scholarships, community-based natural resource management, and the compilation of a detailed overview of possible applications for research conducted in the Kalahari Desert region. In its largest project to date, KPF in 2001 co-funded with TOCADI a borehole drilling project at Dobe, Botswana (see page 43). KPF also works closely with WIMSA (see page 45), SASI (see page 49), Kuru (see page 48), and other San grass-roots organizations.

KPF continues to bring to public attention accurate and up-to-date information on the situations and aspirations of Kalahari peoples. With tax-free status in the United States, KPF is an excellent avenue for supporting San-initiated development projects in southern Africa. For further information, please contact Megan Biesele, Kalahari Peoples Fund, Box 7855, University Station, Austin, TX 78755. Tel: (512) 453-8935, fax: (512) 459-1159,, Web site:

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