Severe water shortages and unreliable rains in Ngamiland District have immensely affected revenue generation in the tourism industry, as rivers have dried up, thereby halting tourism activities like boat cruises.
Water shortages have also compelled members of the public to collect water from nearby flood plains and risk attacks from dangerous wild animals. Areas that have been most affected include Ditshiping, Daunara, Xaxau all of which are in Bojanala ward on the south eastern tip of the Okavango Delta. On the western side of the delta lie the Boro and Xaxaba channels. People in these areas are subsistence farmers who survive by offering boat cruising services to tourists. Because the water has dried up, many of them have either downed their tools or moved to further water channels where some water still remains. Water is expected to flow into the delta from Angola in large volumes between the months of May and June.
The desperate search for water has resulted in people from Xharaxau and Boro relocating to Xuxaga settlement nearer to Santantadibe channel, a feeder channel from the much bigger Nqoga channel. The Santatadibe has also received people from Ditshiping, Daunara and Xuxau. Councilor Luke Motlaleselelo of Bojanala ward said in an interview that the influx of people to water points has also led to conflicts amongst tour operators.
The Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust office which operates in the area is also facing difficulties in evenly allocating oncoming tourists amongst the camping sites. Motlaleselelo added that the carrying capacity of people and tourists alike has also affected the sensitive environment on which they operate, as the places are now degraded since there is no chance of land rehabilitation.
“I must thank Belmond Safaris which operates Eagle Island Camp for bowsing domestic water to people at some of the affected areas. They have offered assistance to communities in many ways and have given out food rations to supplement what the council already offers”, he said.