The Okavango delta has been nominated for world heritage listing.
Presenting at a seminar in the past week, UNESCO Culture specialist Damir Dijakovic said although initiated by the Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism in fulfillment of Botswana’s obligations to the UNESCO 1972 Convention, several stakeholders have also played a major role in its implementation, leading to its nomination.
He said it is therefore important that the media keep reporting on heritage issues as well as its existence, bearing in mind that the reports should be used for the upkeep of the economy and are also not renewable as they cannot be brought to their initial stage because of changes associated to the scenery of heritage sites.
The Okavango delta, according to abstracts from the National Museum, is an immaculate inland Delta which measures over 16,000 km2 in size and supports the lives of over 120 000 people by providing freshwater, food, building materials, medicinal plants as well as employment through a viable tourist industry.
It is also known as a wetland in an otherwise arid environment that is an extension of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert and incorporates a variety of habitats including woodlands, reverine forests grasslands, floodplains and sand veldt islands.
The maximum flooding of the delta occurs in the winter months and thus provides important dry season forage and water for wildlife.
The Moremi Game Reserve is a part of the delta system and it is in this area that all wildlife is protected. Outside the game reserve and the Wildlife Management Areas is communal land where subsistence farming and livestock farming are the common forms of land use. It is also here that human wildlife conflict has become rife among communities, who have formed community trusts to sustain their livelihoods.
In his welcome remarks, Kgosi Oleyo Ledimo said although some locals made a living in the delta by fishing, fetching, eating water lily (tswii), they cooperated immensely in supporting the effort of the stakeholders in ensuring that the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) came in reality as it is the corner stone of shaping the delta. He said the delta is key to the economy of Ngamiland as a district, which therefore means local people should from time be updated on any developments, and where possible be included even in decision making to avoid situations whereby they will only be notified when conclusions have already been made.
“It is my personal conviction that, if it wasn’t of our focus as people of Ngamiland in terms of taking care of the delta, as well as cooperating with the government in all spheres on issues surrounding the delta, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. This translates to say as Batawana we are very powerful when it comes to conserving natural resources, hence the listing of the Okavango Delta as a world heritage site. The media need to be commended and saluted as they play a vital and very crucial role in the spreading of information to the public. On this account, I would like to urge you to keep up your good work and let the world out there be informed on this phenomenon so as to attract more tourists into our country,” said Ledimo in direct reference to the media.