THE KALAHARI PEOPLES FUND:
AN ORGANIZATION AIMED AT ASSISTING THE SAN AND OTHER PEOPLES OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
The Kalahari Peoples Fund (KPF) is a non-profit organization formed for the benefit of the San and other peoples of the Kalahari desert region of southern Africa. KPF is a non-government advocacy group composed of anthropologists, development workers, and other interested individuals who have worked closely with the San or are familiar with the situations they are dealing with. KPF’s function is to act as a channel of communication between southern African peoples and the wider world, bringing information about their hopes and needs to interested individuals, groups, and agencies who are able to help them.
Since its beginning in 1973, KPF has responded to several requests for help made by San, Nama, and other rural southern African communities. It does this 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 the ways that they live and interact both among themselves and with the governments of the states where they live.
Currently, there are over 115,000 people who see themselves as San in southern Africa. Nearly half of these people are in the Republic of Botswana, and a third are in Namibia. San are also found in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Some of the San and other groups face economic difficulties in part because they have not been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities offered to their fellow citizens due to remoteness, insufficient information about the availability of funds, or lack of technical assistance. Many San are dealing with problems of severe poverty and lack of security of land tenure.
Help provided by the KPF has taken several forms. It has provided an anthropologist to act as liaison between local people and government agencies in Ngamiland, Botswana. KPF also funded an agricultural adviser to the people of Ngamiland. Scholarships have been provided to enable children to attend school. KPF has also made available small grants to organizations to undertake community projects, such as an irrigation scheme in a rural Nama settlement in southern Namibia. In addition, KPF personnel have conducted research on development-related issues that has been used in the design of agricultural, income generation, and other kinds of kinds of community development projects.
Present KPF projects include assisting in curriculum development for education, providing scholarships for students, sharing information on community-based natural resource management and local-level development projects, capacity-building in local-level organizations such as community trusts, and compiling a detailed overview of the applications of research and development work conducted in the Kalahari Desert region. KPF continues to try and bring accurate and up-to-date information on the situations and aspirations of Kalahari peoples to public attention.
Our Board of Directors
Megan Biesele, Ph.D
Dr. Biesele, Director of KPF, helped to found the organization in 1973 along with other members of the Harvard Kalahari Research Group. For periods in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, she worked with the Ju/'hoan San communities in Botswana and Namibia as an advocate and documentarian, and served as director of a non-governmental organization, the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia during the years spanning Namibia's transition to independence (1987-1992).
Dr. Biesele is a former member of the Committee for Human Rights of the American Anthropological Association. She currently holds adjunct professorships in anthropology at Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, as well as a Research Associateship at the Texas Archaeological Research Lab of the University of Texas at Austin.
Robert K. Hitchcock, Ph.D
Dr. Hitchcock is currently a professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. The majority of Hitchcock’s ethnographic field work has been carried out among the San populations of southern Africa, especially those in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. He has also worked with pastoralists and refugees in Somalia and with small-scale farmers who were resettled by large dams in Lesotho.
He provides anthropological expertise in land and resource rights-related legal cases involving indigenous people, and he conducts social and environmental impact assessments of large dams, agricultural projects, refugee resettlement, and conservation programs. In addition, he provides advice and assistance to non-government organizations and agencies that work with African, Middle Eastern, and South American refugees and immigrants who reside in the United States. Hitchcock’s most recent book is People, Parks, and Power: The Ethics of Conservation-related Resettlement (Springer, 2020).
Diana Borden, Esq.
Ms. Borden is an attorney in Austin, Texas. She earned her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Social Relations and the Comparative Study of Religion from Harvard/Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA.
She spent many years in private practice in Austin, most recently advising growing businesses and their entrepreneur founders in Austin’s technology sector. Earlier, she served in-house, as Vice President and General Counsel for an Austin-based software company. Her academic career has included posts as an Associate Professor of Law at St. Mary’s University College of Law in San Antonio, Texas, and as a visiting (summer) professor and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas.
Wayne A. Babchuk, Ph.D
Dr. Babchuk is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Quantitative, Qualitative, and Psychometric Methods (QQPM) program in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). He also serves as an Executive Board Member of the Central States Anthropological Society (CSAS), Managing Editor for the Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research (JEQR), and as an instructor for the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
Dr. Babchuk is an applied research methodologist who teaches and conducts research on qualitative and mixed methods research across disciplines, research ethics, grounded theory, ethnography, mixed methods-grounded theory, and community-based participatory research. He is also involved in several other research tracks including Kalahari San land use and resource rights, conservation, and development, the evaluation and assessment of teaching among faculty in post-secondary institutions, interdisciplinary collaboration, and a host of other topics. Dr. Babchuk is currently co-authoring three texts on the design and application of qualitative and mixed methods.
Ted Bartholomew, Ph.D
Dr. Bartholomew earned his Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Creighton University (2009) and his Master's and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska (2016). He was as an Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Counseling Psychology at Purdue University (2016-2019) and is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology (and affiliate of the Department of Africana Studies) at Scripps College.
His fieldwork has predominantly involved exploring the meaning and explanation of mental illness and its treatment in northern Namibia as well as some communities of resettled individuals in the United States. More recent efforts include explorations of mental illness explanations with a Chin community as well as developing empirical efforts to understand suicide among the Namibian Aawambo. He has been an Executive Committee Member of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research (including President-Elect; 2020-2021), and he has been a member of the KPF board since 2019.
Advisors and Consultants
Alan J. Osborn
R. Fleming Puckett, Ph.D
Dr. Puckett is our Program Director for Land Rights & Governance, working to increase awareness, funding, and advocacy related to land rights, community governance, and San/government relationships across southern Africa. He began his fieldwork with the !Xun, Khwe, and ǂKhomani San people of South Africa in 2009 and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in 2013.
Dr. Puckett's continuing research focuses on indigenous systems of governance, decision-making, land use, and community organization and the impacts of conflicts between these systems and the stated goals, requirements, and implementation procedures of national land and “development” legislation. His professional background includes research, teaching, writing, public speaking, legal practice, consulting, and negotiation.
In addition to his doctorate, Dr. Puckett holds an
MA in Higher Education from Columbia University, an MBA from Cornell, and two law degrees, from Boston University and Cambridge University. He was admitted to the State Bar of New York in 2002. Fleming is co-editor of the book, Research and Activism Among the Kalahari San Today: Ideals, Challenges, and Debates (2018).