Botswana will join millions around the world on the 2nd February to commemorate the signing of the Convention on Conservation and Protection of Wetlands.
The day came into being in the Iranian city of Ramar on February 2 1971.
Botswana signed and ratified to become a member in April 1971. About four percent of Botswana’s surface is covered by wetland. Minister Kitso Mokaila is expected to officiate at the event, which aims to reinforce continued efforts to raise awareness on the key role of wetlands in the ecosystem and economic development, as well as promoting their sustainable utilization for posterity.
The commemoration of the day will be held in Kasane’s Plateau Local Centre, under the theme ‘Wetlands and Forests’, specially chosen because 2011 is the UN Year of Forests, and runs with the slogan, “Forests for water and wetland”.
Guests expected to grace the event include the Deputy Chief Executive Secretary of the Convention, the Member of Parliament for Chobe region, Chief Executive Officers from private companies and parastatals, Dikgosi, and the community.
All are expected to participate in activities, which include a march. At this Wetlands Fair, an estimated 80 exhibitors will display.
Winning schools and individuals from the wetlands themed essay and art competition will also be awarded prizes.
Addressing a press conference in Gaborone on Wednesday, the Director at the Department of Environmental Affairs, Steavie Monna, told journalists that Botswana has many types of wetlands.
These include swampy areas, such as the Okavango and Linyati, ephemeral rivers like Limpopo and Motloutse, fossil river valleys of the Kgalagadi as well as the Makgadikgadi saltpans.
Artificial water storage, such as dams and sewerage, are also considered to be wetlands.
Monna stressed the need of educating Batswana about the importance of wetlands, saying we all rely on wetlands to recharge our ground water and provide grazing land to livestock, employment, and food materials for construction as well as useful medicinal plants.
Manna said some of the most common threats to our wetlands include pollution, illegal abstraction of sand and water, overgrazing and illegal hunting.