Sustainable Land Management (SLM), Makgadikgadi Project, a project funded by the Global Environment Fund/United Nations Development Programme (GEF/UNDP) and implemented by BirdLife Botswana in conjunction with Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was launched on the 5th March, 2015; at Granny Lodge, Letlhakane.
The project, designed as a follow-up to the recently completed, ‘Strategic Partnerships to Improve the Financial and Operational Sustainability of Protected Areas project’, implemented by BirdLife Botswana in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) during 2009 ÔÇô 2013;builds on planning documents developed by the former projects. The Southern Sua Pan Management Plan is one these.
The project’s aim is to improve the integrity of the Makgadikgadi ecosystem and to secure the livelihoods of rangeland dependent-communities. Its envisaged outcomes are Strengthened capacity and improved policy and institutional for environmental management and sustainable development at the district (Boteti sub-district) and ecosystem-levels (Makgadikgadi wetland system); and Enhanced capacity of communities in southern Sua Pan (Mmea, Mokubilo, Mmatshumo and Mosu) for natural resources and ecosystem management and benefit distribution.
Giving a key note address during the launch, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) Felix Monggae explained that, “The prevalent land and livestock management processes in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi ecosystem are likely to compromise the continued flow of ecosystem goods and services from the savannah ecosystem that are necessary to sustain the national economy, livelihoods and rich fauna and flora diversity. Local communities need to participate meaningfully in mainstreaming SLM principles into rangeland management and governance in order to secure the ecosystems goods and services necessary for current and future development and maintenance of biodiversity.”
He however pointed out that, the effectiveness of their participation is currently hindered by critical barriers, chief among them, inadequate knowledge and skills for adoption of SLM in arable farming, livestock management and livelihood support systems.
“Primarily for the hitherto under-utilized veld products; lack of integrated localized land-use plans and inadequate user-right privileges for resident natural resource users. These barriers are preventing the government and the local communities to achieve the long-term solutions desired for rangelands,” said Monggae.
For his part, Dr. Kabelo Senyatso, Director of BirdLife Botswana mentioned that the projects aims are to remove these barriers outlined by Monggae by supporting communities to mainstream SLM principles into the Sub-district-wide land-use planning, and at a few pilot sites into both livestock production.
“This will be done through strengthening Farmer’s Associations and providing through them, technical backstopping to enable farmers to improve livestock productivity whilst enhancing rangeland conditions and arable farming through conservation agriculture. Two components will be used,” he said.
Firstly, systems and capacities will be placed for applying improved range management principles over 1,900,000 hectares of rangelands.
“Activities will be targeted at the entire Makgadikgadi Framework Management Plan (MFMP) area, but with other more detailed support for land use planning focusing on the Boteti sub-district. Replication of the successful pilots could have an impact on an additional 1,440,000 hectares; notably in adjoining Tutume sub-district planning area,” said Dr Senyatso.
Component two, he said will facilitate the conditions necessary for development and successful implementation of local integrated land use plans in pilot villages. It will empower local institutions to improve resource governance and stakeholder participation in regional dialogues on the importance of mainstreaming SLM into rangeland management for local development. “Overall, the project will improve capacity for local resource management and governance, removing barriers to small-scale, non-beef enterprises; including veld product processing, development and marketing, and community-based tourism that utilizes threatened trees of conservation and cultural significance; and conservation agriculture to enhance arable production catalyzed through GEF resources,” he said.
The total budget for the project is USD 7,587,832.00 of which GEF contributes USD 792,832.00 and a co-finance of USD 6,795,000.00 of which UNDP contributes USD 225,000.00 and national partners contribute the balance of USD 6,570,000.00.
Amongst the speakers was Tiego Mpho, UNDP SLM Ngamiland Project Manager who delivered UNDP remarks. The development partner Montwedi Mphati from BOTASH also gave remarks.