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Insaka is an African-centred community of practice for management of social ecological systems.


We envision a community of practice with the passion, commitment and professional ability to provide African-centred leadership and innovation that influences the management of complex social-ecological systems.


We use our institutions of higher education to ignite dialogue, knowledge generation and learning.

Our strategic plan sets three objectives:

  • Develop a cadre of competent professionals who are capable of influencing the management of sustainable social-ecological systems
  • Develop an environment that supports and enables the emergence and sustenance of an African-centred community of practice
  • Influence the management of social-ecological systems

The consortium involves five institutions. The University of KwaZulu-Natal has long been involved in natural resource education, research and development activities. The University of Namibia brings considerable expertise on community based conservation into the group and has a strong desire to build its research profile in Southern African conservation.  The Copperbelt University administers the only Zambian University Forestry programme, and brings its expertise in tropical ecosystems to the group.  Monash South Africa offers significant strength in water leadership and governance. The University of Montana has a long tradition of excellence in research, service and education in natural resources. Each of the five universities is interested in building its capability in natural resources higher education.

Insaka – Scope of Work

We aim to develop a cadre of competent professionals capable of influencing the management of sustainable social ecological systems.


  • Professional competence is fundamental to managing dynamically complex social ecological systems.
  • There is a general acknowledgement of the limited competencies and capacity in southern Africa.


  • We provide post-graduate study (MS and PhD) in the management of complex social ecological systems.
  • We develop the institutional know-how that will enable universities in the region to register students for postgraduate study in the management of complex social ecological systems.
  • We want to influence the development of knowledge and skills in resource management institutions.
  • We conduct a strategic review of regional scale curricula, course content and mode of delivery to address systems concepts and principles particularly as they relate to social ecological systems.
  • We aim to design and collaborate in integrated research that helps us learn together to understand and illustrate the nature of African social ecological systems.
  • We want to build confidence through enabling peer review/critique of manuscripts, proposals etc.
  • We aim to publish our findings in ways (e.g. newsletter, accredited journals, policy papers) that develop the confidence of African researchers and a wider awareness of their competencies and commitment to collaborative research in social ecological systems

We influence the management of social ecological systems.


  • Training has yielded managers who don’t have the know-how or and commitment required to manage complex systems.
  • Management of the use of natural resources is generally not systems-oriented.
  • Water management systems are not set up to make best use of the integrated, adaptive approaches required to influence the management of social ecological systems.


We work with managers to develop a shared understanding of the challenges of social ecological systems by:

  • Developing and offering accredited short courses and continuing education on systems approaches to managing natural resources.
  • Publishing and distributing Issues in managing social ecological systems in Southern Africa four times a year.

We aim to develop an enabling environment that supports emergence of an African-centred community of practice.


  • Professional leadership does not yet employ a systems approach to managing social ecological systems. As a result, these leaders need new knowledge and skills, as well as support for the changes that lie ahead.
  • Institutional arrangements also do not favour dialogue, exchange of knowledge and co-learning at a sub-continental scale.
  • Current competitive paradigms encourage strengthening the strong and not strengthening those who need to become more influential regionally.


  • We contribute actively to meeting the intentions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the institutions.
  • We are establishing a faculty and graduate student exchange programme that facilitates inter-institutional dialogue, exchange of knowledge and co-learning.
  • We are implementing a mentoring system to build relationships, share knowledge and experience and encourage a sense of belonging.
  • We collaborate in research and jointly authored publications.
  • We are building institutional identity by supporting growth opportunities and sharing the responsibilities for the operations of the community of practice (e.g. annual symposia, training courses).
  • We’re designing and implementing a leadership support programme that is embedded in the management of social ecological systems.

Insaka – Research Activities

Graduate students

List of Masters and Doctoral students.

No.NameInstitutionDegreeEnrolled / Graduated
1Kathryn KhumaloMONTANAPhDGraduated 2012
2Alfons MosimaneUNAMPhDGraduated 2013
3Nelly MwangoUKZNPhDGraduated 2014
4Ernita van WykUKZNPhDGraduated 2015
5Jane KwenyeCBU/ MONTANAPhDGraduated 2015
6Sandile ZekaUKZNPhDGraduated 2013
7Machaya ChombaMSAMPhilGraduated 2015
8Quinex ChiluweMONASH SAMPhilGraduated 2015
9Laura BecerraMONTANAPhDGraduated 2016
10Selma LendelvoUNAMPhDIn progress
11Busani MasiriMSAMPhilCompleted 2016
12Nkosi NcubeMSAMPhilCompleted 2016
12Nkosi NcubeMSAMPhilCompleted 2016
13Nyaradzo NazareMSAMPhilCompleted 2016
14Agness MusutuMSAMPhilCompleted 2016
15Jitender TanejaMSAMPhilCompleted 2016


  • Hay, D., Nkhata, B. and Breen, C. (2015). Water security: a messy and wicked problem Water Wheel, Water Research Commission, Pretoria.
  • Khumalo, K.E., Haddix-McKay, K and Freimund, W. (2015). Who is a “Real Woman”? Empowerment and the Discourse of Respectability in Namibia’s Zambezi Region.
  • Women’s Studies International Forum 48: 47-56.
  • Khumalo, K.E. and Yung, L. (in revision). Women, Human-Wildlife Conflict, and CBNRM: Hidden Impacts and Vulnerabilities in Kwandu Conservancy, Namibia. Conservation and Society
  • McCool, S. and Khumalo, K.E. (2015). Empowering Managers: Enhancing the Performance of Protected Area Managers in the Twenty-First Century. Tourism Recreation Research.
  • McCool, S.F., Freimund, W.A. and Breen, C. (2015). Benefitting from complexity thinking. In G.L.Warboys, M. Lockwood, A Kathari, S. Feary and I. Pulsford (eds.) Protected Area Governance and Management ANU Press, Canberra
  • Mosimane, A.W. and Silva, J.A. (2015). Local Governance Institutions, CBNRM, and Benefit-sharing Systems in Namibian Conservancies. Journal of Sustainable Development. 8 (2) 99-112.
  • Roux, D.J., Breen, C.M. and Carruthers, J. (2014) Reflections on the history of aquatic science in South Africa with particular reference to the period after 1994. Water SA 40 (2): 255-262


  • Freitag, S., Biggs, H. and Breen, C. (2014). The spread and maturation of strategic adaptive management within and beyond South African national parks. Ecology and Society 19 (3): 25. [online] URL:
  • Khumalo, K.E. and Freimund, W. (2014) Expanding Women’s Choices through Employment? Community-Based Natural Resource Management and Women’s Empowerment in Kwandu Conservancy. Society and Natural Resources: an International Journal, 27(10):1024-1039.
  • Nkhata, B.A., Breen, C. and Hay, D. (2014) Water Security: A Complex Systems and Governance Perspective. Environmental SCIENTIST 23 (3): 9-12.
  • Nkhata, B.A., Breen, C. and Hay, D. (2014) Improving Water Quality Security through Self-Governance. Environmental SCIENTIST 23 (3): 43-48.
  • Swemmer, L., Grant, R., Annecke, W. and Freitag-Ronaldson, S. (2014). Toward More Effective Benefit Sharing in South African National Parks, Society & Natural Resources DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2014.945055
  • Van Wyk, E., Breen, C. and Freimund, W. (2014). Meanings and Robustness: Propositions for enhancing benefit sharing in social-ecological systems International Journal of the Commons 8(2) 576-594


  • Breen, C. (Editor) (2013). Community Based Natural Resource Management: An Introduction. Centre for African Studies, University of Florida. Author House 298pp.
  • McCool, S.F., Nkhata, B., Breen, C., and Freimund, W. (2013). A heuristic framework for reflecting on protected areas and their stewardship in the 21st
    Century. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism 1(1-2): 9-17.
  • Mosimane, A.W., McCool S. and Brown P. and Ingrebretson, J. (2013). Using mental models in the analysis of human wildlife conflict from a social -ecological system perspective, Namibia. Fauna and Flora International, Oryx, pp. 1-7; DOI:
  • Nkhata, B.A., Wilkinson, M, Breen, C.M., Hay, D.G., Crafford, J. and Harris, K. (2013). Embedding Property Rights Theory in Co-operative Approaches to the Management of Aquatic Ecosystem Services in South Africa. Research Report K5/2073, Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa.


  • Khumalo, K.E. (2012). Women’s Views on Conservation-Based Income Generation and Women’s Empowerment in Kwandu Conservancy in Caprivi, Namibia. University of Montana. UMI Dissertations Publishing.
  • Lendelvo, S., Munyebvu, F. and Suich, H. (2012). Linking Women’s Participation and Benefits within the Namibian Community Based Natural Resource Management Program, Journal of Sustainable Development 5(12):27-39
  • McCool, S.F., Hsu, Y., Rochas, S.B., Sæþórsdóttir, A.D., Gardner, L., and Freimund, W. (2012). Building the capability to manage tourism in support of the Aichi Targets. Parks 18(2): 92-106.
  • Mosimane, A.W., Breen C. and Nkhata, B.A. (2012). Collective identity, action and resilience in the management of common pool resources. International Journal of the Commons 6 (2) 344-362.
  • Nkhata B.A. Breen, C. and Mosimane, A. (2012). Engaging common property theory: implications for benefit sharing research in developing countries. International Journal of the Commons 6:52-69
  • Nkhata, B.A., Mosimane, A.W., Downsborough, L., Breen, C.M. and Roux, D. (2012). A Typology of Benefit Sharing Arrangements for the Governance of Social-Ecological Systems in Developing Countries. Ecology and Society 17(1): 17.
  • Nkhata, B.A, and McCool, S.F. (2012). Coupling protected area governance and management through planning. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 14(4): 394-410.


  • Biggs, H.C., Breen, C.M., Slotow, R., Freitag, S., and Hockings, M. (2011). How assessment and reflection relate to more effective learning in adaptive management. Koedoe 53 (2) on line.
  • Khumalo, L. (2011). Effects of Kwandu Conservancy on the Empowerment of Female Residents: Preliminary Findings. Technical Report submitted to WWF, Namibia.
  • Murray, K., Roux, D.J., Nel, J.L., Driver, A. and Freimund, W. (2011). Absorptive Capacity as a guiding concept for effective public sector management and conservation of freshwater ecosystems. Environmental Management: Volume 47(5): 917-925.


  • Nkhata, B.A. and Breen, C.M. (2010). Performance of community-based natural resource governance for the Kafue Flats (Zambia). Environmental Conservation 37 (3): 296–302.
  • Nkhata, B.A. and Breen, C.M. (2010). Exploring integrated learning systems for the governance and management of public protected areas. Environmental Management 45 (2): 403-413.
  • Roux, D., Stirzaker, R., Breen, C.M., Lefroy, E.C. and Cresswell, H.P. (2010). Framework for structured reflection on the success of transdisciplinary research programs. Environmental Science and Policy 13 733-741
  • Still, D., Dickens, C., Breen, C., Mander, M., and Booth, A. (2010). Balancing resource protection and development in a highly regulated river: the role of conjunctive use. Water SA 36 (3) 371-378.