Peaceful Societies

Alternatives to Violence and War

News and Reviews

Keeping Elephants out of Water Sources


An article in the Namibia Economist last week indicated that the Ju/’hoansi in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy are using donated funds to build stone walls around village water facilities to protect them from elephants.

Elephants in Namibia

Elephants in Namibia ( Photo by Frank Vassen on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The Conservancy has around 18 water points which need to be shared among the human residents and about 1000 – 1500 elephants. The rock walls—about two meters high—are completely elephant proof, so once the boreholes, water storage tanks, and equipment are all protected from the big animals, the villagers can invest in projects that require secure water such as agriculture and livestock.

Three villages are receiving the funding to build the walls from two sources: the Green Climate Fund and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia. The former is an international development funding agency headquartered in South Korea. It invests in projects that seek to counteract the effects of global climate change in the developing countries.

The drought that has affected all of Namibia has stressed wildlife searching for water, which has had an impact on the gardens that the villagers have been trying to protect. The GCF/EIF funded project will also service and overhaul all the village boreholes in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy during the coming year.

Women doing craft work at a San village in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy

Women doing craft work at a San village in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy (Photo by Gil Eilam on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The news story last week updates a report in this website from April 2017 that described in some detail the development of water resources in the Ju/’hoansi San villages and the importance of protecting them from harm. The Ju/’hoansi used to move about following the natural availability of water but now that they have settled into permanent villages, they clearly need secure sources of it.

That 2017 report indicated that one solution to the conflict between elephants and the villagers’ need for secure water was to provide water for the animals with the hope that they would not be as inclined to harm the facilities in the villages. To judge by the news story last week, it appears as if the Conservancy is now focusing on effectively preventing the elephants from approaching the water facilities. It’s the only strategy that really works.


Republicans Seek Amish Votes


It’s an election year in the U.S. and once again the Republicans are looking for ways to get more votes in Pennsylvania from the Amish. A news story on a Harrisburg-area television station last week described their latest attempt to court the Lancaster County Amish.

A group of Amish and Mennonites wave to President George Bush during his visit to Lancaster, PA, in 2006

A group of Amish and Mennonites wave to President George Bush during his visit to Lancaster, PA, in 2006 (Photo by Kimberlee Hewitt, White House image, in the public domain)

According to the report, the Trump administration invited some Amish people to meet with the president in the White House, the first time such a meeting has occurred. Congressman Lloyd Smucker, a Republican who represents Lancaster County, helped facilitate the meeting, though he indicated it was at the behest of the administration.

Kyle Kopko, Associate Professor of Political Science at Elizabethtown College, told the television reporter that wherever the Amish have registered to vote, they have overwhelmingly done so as Republicans. He said that the Amish population is doubling about every 20 years and they typically vote quite strongly for conservative candidates. However, “this is going to be a generational change,” he argued. Their voting is not likely to be significant in the 2020 election.

Steven Nolt, Professor of Anabaptist Studies at Elizabethtown, said that while a third of the Amish in Lancaster County remain farmers, the majority of them are now the owners of small businesses. Important issues for them are limiting the regulation of businesses by governments, limiting taxation, and securing religious liberty—classic Republican values.

But Prof. Nolt also said that the Amish are conscientious objectors; issues such as exemptions from serving in the military and not being required to send their kids to high school are important to them. He felt that having the president’s ear may prove to be beneficial for them.

Both professors indicated that political changes won’t occur overnight, though they agreed with the truism that every vote counts. The fate of the election in 2000 was decided by 537 votes in Florida for George Bush. If the 2020 election is as close, and if Pennsylvania turns out to be the keystone state, 1000 more Amish votes in Lancaster County could possibly decide the election, according to Dr. Kopko.

President Bush meets some Amish in Lancaster County, PA, August 16, 2006

President Bush meets some Amish in Lancaster County, PA, August 16, 2006 (Photo by Kimberlee Hewitt, White House image, in the public domain)

Earlier news stories in this website have mentioned this hope among Republican operatives in the state. A report in 2008 analyzed the 2004 election in which then-President Bush campaigned in Lancaster County. Despite the conservative values that Bush seemed to uphold and his genuinely charming public manner, the Lancaster County Amish in the long run may have also been opposed to voting for a president who had led the U.S. into a war with Iraq. Many of them appeared to sit out the election and let God, in their view, decide who would be the next president.

Another article in 2016 made similar points to the one eight years earlier. Despite the folksy, likeable style of Bush, and his frequent references to God in his speeches, the Amish had qualms about voting for him in 2004 due mostly to his war in Iraq. Out of more than 10,000 potential Amish voters in Lancaster County that year, just over 1,300 voted.

A reporter quoted in 2016 questioned noted authority on the Amish Donald Kraybill, also from Elizabethtown College, about the prospects for the 2016 election. Kraybill replied that while the Amish do tend to respect successful business executives, Donald Trump’s boastful style is antithetical to their passion for humility.



Older News and Reviews

News and reviews of publications relating to peaceful societies—and sometimes to related topics—are normally posted here on Thursday mornings (U.S. time). Older news and reviews for the year are listed on the 2016 page, and ones from previous years are listed on the News and Reviews 2004 page, the 2005 page, the 2006 page, the 2007 page, the 2008 page, the 2009 page, the 2010 page, the 2011 page, the 2012 page, the 2013 page, the 2014 page and the 2015 page. All stories are also included in the News and Reviews Subject Listing. They are listed at the bottom of each society entry in the Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies, after the heading: Updates: News and Reviews. News and reviews about peacefulness in general are referred to from the bottom of the Facts page, while news stories about this website are linked from the About This Website page. News and Reviews can also be found with the search bar.