Communities in Boteti have embraced the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) program, as they have so far registered nine Community Based Organisations (CBOs). All of the CBOs are at initial stages of operation as they have just been registered, except for the Gaeng’o Trust of Mmatshumu, which already has operational projects like the Lekhubu camping and tourist sites.
In an interview with The Telegraph, CBNRM Community Support Officer in Boteti, Motingwa Motingwa said the newest Trust is Lenao la ga Kwalabe Conservation Trust, which was launched last week.
“The founding of the Trusts is influenced by tourism in the area, especially the Makgadikgadi. The newly registered Trust operates next to Lake Nxau and shares the lake with other communities like Xhumu, Toromoja, Mmadikola, Mokoboxane and Mopipi,” explained Motingwa.
He said three community trusts share Lake Nxau and the technical advisory committee (TAC) intends to put in place rules and regulations that will coordinate its shared use. The committee comprises residents and various government departments. It is chaired by the District Commissioner’s office, while the wildlife department plays the role of secretary. Birdlife Botswana has over the past few years been resuscitating Trusts in Boteti with a view to improving the residents’ low economic status by enabling them to benefit from their communities’ rich natural resources.
“Communities have been consulted and they have expressed their interest in venturing into tourism projects like boat cruising and camp sites. Other projects include reed harvesting, basketry and fishing,” said Motingwa.
The CBNRM setup empowers communities to make decisions and ensures that nothing is imposed on them. While Private Public Partnership initiatives are encouraged, the technical committees have a responsibility to protect communities and make sure that they are not cheated by private companies. During the launch of the Lenao la ga Kwalabe Conservation Trust, Motingwa advised CBOs to channel their plans through the technical advisory committee as it is the umbrella body.
“The technical committee also serves as a link between the donors and the communities,” he said.
Birdlife Botswana’s Projects Officer in Makgadikgadi, Randall Tseleng said his organisation was instrumental in the registration of Lenao la ga Kwalabe Conservation Trust as it helped in compiling a proposal for a grant from the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Program under United Nations Development Program (GEF/SGP-UNDP).
“We support trusts with technical support like compiling reports. We are always there to help them whenever they lack. We also identify opportunities for them,” said Tseleng.