Maun based Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (NCONGO) are beneficiaries of a donation of more that $40 million US dollars from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),meant to help address issues of conservation, watershed as well as resource management in Ngamiland region. The donation is also meant to allow NCONGO, as the umbrella body of all NGO’s in Ngamiland, an opportunity to carry out the intended mapping exercise which is expected to determine the a ability of environmental NGO’s as well as Community Based Organizations to promote transparent and sustainable management of the Okavango delta.
Speaking during the launching of the capacity mapping event in Maun on Wednesday, U.S ambassador to Botswana Earl Miller stated that his government has over the years partnered with their Botswana counterparts and local organizations in the preservation of Botswana’s environmental heritage and the pristine Okavango delta. He said their cordial relations date back to the early 90’s when they assisted the country in the management of community-based natural resources, a task that they wish to continue. “As you may be aware, the Okavango delta has abundant natural resources that support the traditional livelihoods of local people. On the other hand also, there is ecotourism that contributes immensely to national economy. We are therefore hopeful that NCONGO will through this exercise and indeed with continued assistance from ourselves identify and determine the capacity of the organizations to advocate for transparent and sustainable management and oversight of the delta. “said Miler. In addition to this, the ambassador noted that policies and procedures which are currently in place will be evaluated and measures of progress made.
For his part, NCONGO Executive Director Monametsi Sokwe said the project was kick started the previous year after realization that there was a big challenge in the implementation of policies that govern the delta. He stated that this led to the creation of a database that will effectively manage policies and legislations which manage the delta. He said the implementation started with the composition of the project implementation team comprising researchers, stakeholders and other intellectuals. “We thought to ourselves that maybe the way some things were programmed was not good. While at this, we will also focus on community development. We are also very much aware of some usual gaps which conflict with each other, and so the intended database will help review legislation and also help us work on policy recommendations, going forward”, he said.
Speaking at the event, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa of the Okavango Research Institute said the Okavango Delta is known worldwide for its beautiful ecosystem, which includes among others the abundant wildlife as well as its clear waters. He noted that it is therefore imperative that with the noticeable rich biodiversity, inhabitants surrounding the area shouldn’t be overlooked as they play a major role in the existence and upkeep of the delta. “We are talking here of people who are prepared to die with and in the delta. These are the people who should be considered more than anything else. And through our research as ORI, we have come to the realization that if communities benefit from resources, they are bound to safeguard the area, but without strong policies, there is no way we can harmonize the ecosystem”, he said.
Mbaiwa also talked strongly about poverty levels in the district as a whole. He said this is attributed to the fact that most policies are not adequate enough to promote the livelihoods of people. He gave as an example, the hunting ban which according to him has negatively impacted on the lives of many people who eked a living out of it. He said while there was nothing wrong with the enforcement of the hunting ban, enough research on the issue could have been vital and might have in some way lessened poaching incidents which continue to spiral.
Also at the launch was Sankuyo Village chief Timex Moalosi who expressed worry about some CBNRM policies which are never implemented as crafted, thus leading to communities encountering hardships.Moalosi added also that some policies are themselves contradictory, all because communities are never involved during times when they are crafted. He commended the US government for stepping in; saying this alone is an indication that they have spotted some irregularities and as a result willing help corrects them.