Monday, May 17, 2021

Gov’t bails out cash strapped Community and Development Trusts

Government has granted a total of five Community and Development Trusts across the country with a total of P3, 045,294 in the past year. The assistance follows the decision by government to ban hunting which was the main source of income for dwellers of most of the assisted communities.

Information passed to The Telegraph shows that amongst the beneficiaries of the latest policy are Gwezotshaa Trust which pocketed P895 500, Mazibukufa Development Trust (P291, 934), Sethamoka Community Trust (P494, 835) and Kainaphu Trust, which received P785, 000. Also amongst the beneficiaries is Mabogo Sustainable Development Trust which received P578, 025. Others like Lepokole Trust received assistance in the form of development of a park and translocation of wildlife. A tourist lodge was developed at Goo Moremi, while Tsodilo was built a camping site and Mogonye was assisted with a gate house.

Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Wildlife, Tourism and National Parks Alice Mmolawa said government will continue working with the affected communities to identify possible viable projects that can be funded for income generation. According to Mmolawa, besides the financial assistance, government continues to support community based organisations (CBOs) and community Trusts that utilize natural resources for income generation by training them on non-consumptive tourism to help them transition from hunting.

“We also carry financial support for the development and review of management plans for concession areas to align them to non-consumptive utilization of natural resources while also facilitating identification of possible private sector investors to partner with communities in the development of photographic tourism activities within the concession areas,” she said.

The leases for some of the concession areas have expired and government through the Botswana Tourism Organization is reportedly in the process of facilitating the identification of possible investors for those community Trusts. Mmolawa conceded that the hunting ban had partly affected Community Trusts and they now have to adapt to a new approach of sustainable utilization of natural resources which they were not used to. For instance, she said, government encourages photographic tourism, which however requires skills. This explains why government is engaged in training of CBOs and Trusts and encouraging partnership with the private sector.

On when the hunting ban will come to an end, Mmolawa said: “The hunting ban was introduced due to a decline in wildlife populations. A review of the population trends will be undertaken in future and appropriate action taken based on the information available”.

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