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About US: The Kalahari Peoples Fund

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 organization provides responsible information and research on the Kalahari peoples for lawyers, students, volunteers and eco-travelers interested  in Southern Africa. We also give talks and workshops at many national and international venues to inform academia and the public about the current state of the Kalahari peoples. 

Board of Directors


Jill Brown, PhD, Executive Director

Jill Brown is the Executive Director of the Kalahari Peoples Fund and a Professor of Psychological Science at Creighton University. She received her BA (1995) and her Ph.D. (2007) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Developmental Psychology. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, Southern Africa (1996-1999) and has continued at do field work with the Aaumbo peoples in northern Namibia for over 25 years, and her recent research explores how people distribute resources across cultural communities in Namibia. She is the former director of African Studies at Creighton University and served as President of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research from 2018-2019.

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Robert Hitchock, PhD

Robert 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).

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Jennifer Hays, PhD

Jennifer Hays is a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Tromso in Norway. She is interested in the ways in which international human rights standards, especially indigenous peoples rights, can be implemented effectively for the most marginalized populations, at global, national and local levels. She has been working with the hunter-gatherer populations in southern Africa (the San) since 1998, with a particular focus on how they approach issues of education and land rights, and the intersection between these issues.


,Fleming Puckett, PhD

Fleming Puckett 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. His 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, he holds an MA in Higher Education from Columbia University, an MBA from Cornell, and two law degrees, from Boston University and Cambridge University.  Fleming is co-editor of the book, Research and Activism Among the Kalahari San Today:  Ideals, Challenges, and Debates (2018).

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Megan Biesele, PhD

Megan  Biesele, a founding member of KPF, worked over 30 years with the Ju/'hoan San communities in Botswana and Namibia as an advocate and documentarian. She 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). 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.


Wayne Babchuk, PhD

Wayne Babchuk is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).  and is an instructor for the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Dr. Babchuk is an applied research methodologist involved in 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.


Ted Bartholomew, PhD

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 is currently an Associate 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; 2021-2022), and he has been a member of the KPF board since 2019.

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Ashley Hazel, PhD

Ashley Hazel is a research scientist at the Proctor Foundation at University of California, San Francisco. As a behavioral ecologist, she studies how physical environments influence social structure and behavior among subsistence-living people, and how those dynamics influence local disease dynamics. She has been working in Namibia since 2007, studying how seasonal mobility among Himba pastoralists shapes sexual network structures and exposure to endemic sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae). More recently, she began studying social support and food security among Ju|’hoansi in Nyae Nyae who rely on subsistence and cash to fulfill household livelihood requirements. She has an undergraduate (Hunter College, CUNY) and masters (University College London) degrees in anthropology, and a PhD in resource ecology at University of Michigan.

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