This Saturday, July 28th the annual Desert Bush Walk returns to Jwaneng. The primary objective is to raise funds towards educational projects and disadvantaged children in the Mabutsane-Jwaneng area. The walk will be divided into two categories, 15km and 30km, both starting in Jwaneng, will then take a bush trail through the desert and then end in Jwaneng.
A secondary objective of the walk is to promote tourism around Jwaneng to local and international tourists. The Desert Bush Walk started in 2014, and since then has had various positive and charitable impacts in Botswana. In 2014, the walk managed to raise sufficient funds to be able to build a creative learning centre for a primary school in Jwaneng. In 2016, after an increase in participants, donors and sponsors, the walk managed to raise funds to be able to build a resource centre for 19 primary schools in the Jwaneng-Mabutsane area.
This also included the purchase of computers and photocopying machines for the collection of schools. They also managed to donate to a charity drive in the area which assists orphans and underprivileged children. In 2017, they managed to raise approximately P235 600 which was again donated to various primary schools in the Jwaneng-Mabutsane region. This year, the walk has a higher final objective of P350 000.
The objective is not only to raise funds and promote tourism, but to also promote both healthy living and the small businesses that exist in the Jwaneng-Mabutsane communities. The high number of participants in the walk (approximately 200 000) will be a sure way of promoting the Jwaneng-Mabutsane hospitality industry, small shops and tuck shops in the area.
Speaking in Gaborone on Monday, the Board Chairperson and LOC Logistic Coordinator of the walk, Archibald Ngakayagae, said that there have been some necessary changes to this year’s walk. Due to an evaluation process and feedback from past participants, the route of the value walk category has been increased from 10km to 15km, and the refreshments water points have been reduced from 15km apart to 10km apart. The decrease in the distance between water collection points means that there will now be only one water collection point for the 15km walk, and two points of water collection for the 30km walk. The aim of the change of the number of water collection points is to erase the issue of people littering during the walks. Another major change to the walk is that the registration fees have increased due to a lack of sponsors. For the 15km, it has increased from P100 to P 150. For the 30km category, it has increased from P200 to P250. For this year’s walk, there will also be the assistance of the Jwaneng Town Council to aid in litter-picking along the routes.
Ngakayagae also announced that The Desert Bush Walk has been recognized as one of the Botswana national events, as it was added to the national list of events by the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO). He says the walk will also be graced by the presence of some high-ranking guests. This includes the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr.Alfred Madigele, and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Thapelo Olopeng. This year’s walk has faced a few challenges. Ngakayagae went on to say that there has been a lack of support from some local beneficiaries in the Jwaneng-Mabutsane area. There has also been a shortage of resources such as rescue motor vehicles, transport vehicles, storage facilities and manpower. However, Ngakayagae remains diligently hopeful that the walk will be a success. He encouraged more businesses and donors to partner with the event, and saying, “You’ll never get poor by giving back to the community.”