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. Robert K. Hitchcock is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is a research faculty member in the Centre for Global Change and Earth Observations (CGCEO) and the Department of Geography at Michigan State University. He has worked for the rights of indigenous peoples, including the San and Bakgalagadi of southern Africa, for the past four decades.
Dr. Hitchcock has also been involved in anthropological, archaeological, ethnoarchaeological, and development-related work in over two dozen countries in Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America. His most recent co-authored book is The San in Zimbabwe: Livelihoods, Land, and Human Rights (2016) and he is the co-editor of a volume entitled Hunter-Gatherers and Their Neighbors in Asia, Africa, and South America (2016).
James I. Ebert, Ph.D
Dr. James I. Ebert is an anthropologist, archaeologist, remote sensing specialist, and certified photogrammetrist who has been a member of the board of the Kalahari Peoples Fund since 1979 and was co-president of KPF for a number of years in the 1980s. He has a B.A. from Michigan State University (1972) and a MA and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico (1986). Dr. Ebert was a founding member of the Remote Sensing Division of the U.S. National Park Service in the early 1970s. He and Eileen Camilli founded Ebert and Associates, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1983. In addition to his anthropological and archaeological work, Dr. Ebert is a forensic scientist and provides expert witness testimony in legal cases for a variety of clients and organizations. Some of the work of Ebert and Associates focuses on land and water use rights of Native American tribes.
Dr. Ebert was part of the University of New Mexico Kalahari Project, and worked in the eastern Kalahari Desert (the Nata River and western sandveld regions of Central District, Botswana) in 1975-76. Besides his work on San, Dr. Ebert has done land use planning and remote sensing training work in Swaziland (1986) and spatial analysis, mapping, and distributional archaeology at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania since 1989 as part of Rutgers University’s Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project (OLAPP). He is the author of Distributional Archaeology (University of New Mexico Press, 1992; University of Utah Press, 2001) and over 200 other articles, papers, book chapters, and volumes on subjects ranging from African archaeology to remote sensing and photogrammetric applications. Ebert, Hitchcock, and Biesele have written several articles about the San and the work of the Kalahari Peoples Fund.
Wayne A. Babchuk, Ph.D
Dr. Wayne A. Babchuk in an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Departments of Educational Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). He also serves as an executive board member of the Kalahari Peoples Fund (KPF) and the Central States Anthropological Society (CSAS).
As an applied research methodologist, he teaches and conducts research on the history, application, and instruction of qualitative research over time and across disciplines, research ethics, grounded theory, ethnography, grounded ethnography, and community-based participatory research. Dr. Babchuk is also involved in several other research tracks including issues related to interdisciplinary collaboration, teaching applied and development anthropology, Kalahari San land and resource rights, conservation, and development, adult education efforts among the San, research to practice links in minority health care, and student use of social media and its relationship to academic success both in and out of the classroom.
R. Fleming Puckett, Ph.D
Dr. R. Fleming Puckett is a KPF Board Member and 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 forthcoming book, Research and Activism Among the Kalahari San Today: Ideals, Challenges, and Debates (2017).