BY ARNOLD LETSHOLO
MOGONYE: The Botswana Community Based Organizations Network (BOCOBONET) annual general meeting at Mogonye village last week ended without concrete resolutions.
Chairperson of the National Trust Fund, Amos Ben Mabuku, says the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) policy has been overtaken by events and should be amended.
The last review of CBNRM in Botswana was done in 2016 with financial assistance from the Southern African Regional Environmental Programme (SAREP). The review benefited from input from CBNRM practitioners, government offices, non-government organisations and respondents were CBOs.
The CBNRM revenues in Botswana are mostly derived from tourism (wildlife, monuments and cultural tourism) and to a much less extend sales of veld products.
Many CBOs have been financially supported at one point in time by government and/or international cooperating partners (ICPs). In the case of wildlife-based tourism, communities are allocated land for use like wildlife management areas and/or community land use zones in protected areas, which become the source of revenues.
Following the production of a LUMP by the CBO, the Land Board leases the concession area to the CBO for a period of 15 years. The RALE/CBO has the option to sublease part of the user rights to a joint venture partner (JVP) for a shorter period, typically five years. Often CBOs with a JVP have higher benefits, as they are located in prime tourist areas and/or are better managed.
Mabuku did not go into details in supporting his move but his own CBO, the CECT, is a known success story of CBNRM. It boasts around P20m worth of assets.
Another participant moved that the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) be replaced by the Non Governmental Organization Council (NGOCO) in guiding formation of trusts through CBNRM. He reasoned that TAC’s are not as efficient as they should be.
TAC comprises development officers from district commissioners’ offices, officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other officers from the Ministry of Environment, Social Welfare Officers, Land Boards and Local Government and Rural Development personnel.
“They have to be part of the registration process and everything. Yet it seems the duties covered by trust formation are not part of the officers’ job descriptions- making them reluctant to passionately assist the communities accordingly,” he said.
Participants also called for the merging of various developmental policies for ease of implementation.
“BOCOBONET members should never pay high bills for AGMs or any gathering. We should never host gatherings in hotels but instead should utilize fellow member’s areas for venue to cut costs. Documents should be written in both English and Setswana so that information can be accessed by even the semi-literate,” said another.
Indigenous values should be respected by all- even tourists. BOCOBONET members should register to vote so that BOCOBONET will be able to advocate for the needs of its membership-including funding,” said yet another participant. Members represented CBOs from all over the country.
BOCOBONET was established in 1999 as a support organization for rural communities striving to achieve sustainable livelihoods through intelligent/smart utilization of existing natural and other community generated resources. It was established for programs aligned with Vision 2036, NDP 11 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets.
It was established to among others, assist rural communities to increase the availability and equitable distribution of basic life sustaining goods and services through intelligent audit of natural, human and other capacity resources by training on broad base life skills opportunities.