Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Stakeholders push to uplift communities in conservation

RAKOPS: Efforts are on-going to ensure that Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) efforts eventually benefit communities.

To this end, Birdlife Botswana in conjunction with government’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) last month conducted a Capacity Needs Assessment (CNA) survey within the Makgadikgadi Wetland Area (MWA) for landscape of Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

The process was a preparatory stage for capacity development trainings and mentorship support in order to fully identify MWA CBOs’ current capacities, performance and immediate and future capacity needs. The survey was funded by Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Program (GEF/SGP); which has recently applied a landscape approach under its Operational Phase 6, where the MWA was selected as the area where 70 per cent of resources to support local communities through CBOs were channeled.

Project Officer, Tirelo Ramasimong said: “Although local communities have led initiatives that have significantly contributed to the restoration and conservation of the natural environment as well as enhancing local livelihoods through GEF/SGP support, challenges such as limited capacity for successful delivery of actions from GEF/SGP project grants were apparent, as evidenced by mismanagement and misappropriation of project funds, late submission of reports uncompleted actions. The GEF/SGP has thus found it necessary to enhance its approach to ensure the grantees achieve the intended results.”

He added that the GEF/SGP engaged the expertise of Birdlife Botswana, a local conservation Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), to facilitate capacity development, monitoring and mentorship for funded CBO projects as well as potential grantees in the MWA for a period of two years. The mentorship support was for future capacity needs on specific areas like: governance, organizational management, financial management, project operational management as well as biodiversity monitoring.

He said CBOs were assessed individually where members including Board of Trustees, Ex-Officio Members, and management staff were called to a central place for assessments. A Facilitator led participatory self-assessment tool with quantitative questions that required participants to provide scores and to explain their choice was used to capture data. The facilitator asked questions one at a time and allowed the participants to fully understand it along side its scores.

GEF/SGP Coordinator, Abigail Engleton told Sunday Standard that Operational Phase 6 was preceded by thorough consultation with other stakeholders. That, the landscape approach was informed by poverty levels in the area and the biodiversity there! There are opportunities there of coming up with innovation that can change livelihoods of communities; restoration of biodiversity.

Ramasimong said the CNA unveiled that the lack of commitment by the elected Boards of Trustees is major contributory factor in the progress of the CBOs.

“Because the CBOs are new, Trustees do not have incentives like sitting allowances. This leaves the members reluctant to spend time in meetings and compiling progress reports as required by the funders. In some instances, just the lack of skills in compiling reports, though biodiversity management is possible remain as challenges. Projects in the MWA can reward communities in the long run,” said Ramasimong.

The CNA, he said, covered a total of 12 CBOs, two of which were under the administration of Tutume Sub-district while ten are under the Boteti Sub district.

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Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.