Maun, once the pride of northwest Botswana that boasted a unique ‘lotlhaka’ architecture is now developing into a cement jungle that threatens to strip the modern village of its rustic primitive touch.
The rural development center is one of the centers of construction where new council chambers are on the rise.
Development plans want the government offices to move from the sides of the arterial road that meanders through the center of the village into a cluster space where most of its departments will be housed.
The fifteen year old plan that wanted the opening of the space in the center of the business center is already abuzz with building works. There are plans on the maps for the renewal and expansion of the village’s airport.
Maun is not the only center of attention for the Ngamiland District Council planners.
The planners recognize that ‘Ngamiland is a vast district with a multiplicity of settlements often sparsely populated, and which in most cases are remote and not easily accessible due to the very sandy nature of the district.
“This is compounded by the attendant problems of how to cost-effectively and equitably provide infrastructure services to these settlements”.
The district is however ‘enormously endowed with natural resources in the form of wildlife, surface water, veld products among others, and has become a major focus area for the tourism industry, resulting in a lot of pressure being exerted on these resources and their carrying capacities.
“There is therefore the need for a District Settlement Strategy that clearly outlines recommended strategies on how to utilize the district’s abundant natural resources on a sustainable basis,” the district development plan says.
The plan further observes that: –
“Given the proliferation of settlements of less than 250 people in the District, which runs against the grain of the NSP criteria for the recognition of settlements and provision of appropriate levels of services, it becomes very necessary to prepare a District Settlement Strategy that establishes a well thought out settlement hierarchy for the district, taking into account that the settlements should be viable entities in terms of population sizes, resource endowments, locational factors and potentials for sustained economic growth.
The rate of unemployment is high and income levels generally low in the district, the need for a District Settlement Strategy that will come up with proposed projects and programmes that are equitably distributed and aimed at economically empowering the communities becomes very crucial. Such projects and programmes will ultimately serve as pull factors in the attraction of investment flows to the district.
Ngamiland District no doubt has over the years been experiencing increases in population size, with the consequent increase in the demand for infrastructure services, agricultural, serviced industrial, commercial and residential plots, as well as grazing land. These pressures and their attendant problems of unauthorized and negative impacts on environmental quality necessitates that a District Settlement Strategy which will provide a programmed development guide for the district, taking into account existing and expected”.
The district council proposes that ‘as noted earlier, the goals and principles of Vision 2016 serve as the basis and foundation of all development planning initiatives in the country.
The Ngamiland District Settlement Strategy (NDSS) should be in harmony with the long term national aspirations of Botswana as enshrined in the Vision 2016 document. These will greatly inspire the formulation of development strategies and programmes for the district. These are summarised as follows:
Botswana will have its economy diversified, with mining, agriculture, industry, manufacturing and tourism making substantial contributions. Agriculture in Botswana will be productive, profitable and sustainable, and will make a full contribution to economic development, poverty alleviation, food security, improvement of the quality of life, and the sustainable utilization of the country’s natural resources.
By 2016, the nation’s renewable resources will be used at a rate that is in balance with their generation capacity. Non-renewable resources such as minerals will be used efficiently, and their depletion will be balanced by enhanced physical and labour capital. There will be a fully integrated approach towards conservation and development.
The key natural resources and assets of the country will be equitably distributed between its people.
Communities will be involved in the use and preservation of their environmental assets, and will benefit directly from their exploitation. The eradication of poverty will have created a situation where no-one will be forced to damage the environment in order to obtain their basic needs. The wildlife of Botswana will be managed for the sustainable benefit of the local communities, and in the interest of the environment as a whole.
By the year 2016, Botswana will have reached full employment, where the total jobs available in the formal and informal sectors is in balance with the number of job seekers. All people will have access to productive resources, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability or misfortune. Botswana will have succeeded in helping people to escape from the poverty trap, and for them to play their full part in society.
The spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS will have been stopped by 2016, so that there will be no new infections by the virus in that year. If there is not at that time an affordable cure, all people who are suffering from AIDS related illness will have access to good quality treatment in the community, or workplace so that they can continue to live full and productive lives for as long as possible.