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BOTSWANA FEELING THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Following the recent Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016, Botho University in partnership Climate Exploration Hub convened private sector, government, academic institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to help Botswana navigate a complex route to achieving climate resilience. In a one-day seminar held at Botho University, Botswana’s situation was described as highly vulnerable but with opportunities such as solar energy and underground water storage. Diversifying the economy was also considered important for reducing the nation’s vulnerability.
In her opening remarks, the UK High Commissioner, Ms. Kathrine Ransome noted that Africa is experiencing effects of climate change and Botswana is not spared. She cited the reoccurrence of drought and floods which have affected the country as examples of how real climate change is. She also noted that there is funding available for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and said she was concerned as Botswana is not taking advantage of such funding.
Dr Opha Pauline Dube from the Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana alluded that COP 22 Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway and the constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues. All Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
When reviewing the COP 22 outcomes and their implications in Botswana, Dr Opha Pauline Dube said Climate change is already being attributed to a number of changes in Botswana, including longer drought episodes, changes in rainfall patterns, outbreaks of crop diseases that affect the most important sector to rural households and subsistence agriculture. At a national level, Botswana is experiencing significant water shortages resulting in dependence on neighboring countries for inter-basin water transfers to augments its domestic supply. Botswana needs to do more to establish tangible and the intangible losses emanating from climate change. Furthermore, she said Developed countries are to take the lead and go beyond previous efforts in mobilizing climate finance. .
Panelists also had their say on climate change, Ms. Verena Jensen; the Department of Meteorological Services said the government of Botswana has initiated nation-wide consultations to build climate change into all of its development activities. She said climate change is affecting everyone and networking is the best solution to all. Ms Chandapiwa Molefe, a researcher from UB working on the ASSAR project said some diseases may be influenced by the climate change; her personal opinion was that the development of data bank should be invented for climate change, if the community won’t act against the against change the this will lead to floods and drought and the main livelihoods of rural population is relying on agriculture, and forestry resources.
Another panelist, the organizer of the seminar, Mr Obakeng Sethamo said climate change lead into poverty if the country can be hit by the drought and floods, livestock rearing will be affected as it is based on the grazing of natural rangelands which are highly sensitive to climate variables.
“Economic growth offers an opportunity to alter for the long term the risk profile of countries with respect to climate change. There is the possibility to build climate resilience into decisions from the outset. To do this, adaptation plans need to systematically identify the opportunities, where proactive adaptation can be factored into development strategies and long-term investment plans, he said.
For his part, The Videre Global, Mr Robert Hanna said it’s no longer the preserve of scientists and political activists; climate change has started to occupy the mainstream of everyday discussion. In the world of business and finance, climate change has developed from being a fringe concern, focusing on the company’s brand and its Corporate and Social Responsibility, to an increasingly central topic for strategic deliberation and decision-making by executives and investors around the globe.
With more than 32 years of experience in natural resources conservation, KCS has become a lead in influencing environmental policy. The society, through CBNRM programme facilitation and conservation projects has mobilized mass community action in environmental management in Botswana; this includes actions towards climate change resilience In the face of life threatening water shortage within the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) settlements, the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) drilling five boreholes to avert high mortalities of wildlife in the game reserve, resulting from the prevailing drought. Through ASSAR, KCS will be running a series of seminars about what research says to the general public.
Southern Africa Unites Against Illegal Wildlife Trade
In the wake of rising poaching of elephants, rhinos and other species of wild animals, governments of southern African met to strengthen their collaboration against illegal wildlife trade. In a conference held at Phakalane Estate, Gaborone on Tuesday 29th November 2016, the value of collaboration was demonstrated as international cooperating partners also joined hands with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to tackle the escalating problem of illegal trade in wildlife. The theme of the conference was on platforms for exchange of information on illegal wildlife trade.
Delivering his keynote address, Ambassador of European Union to the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Alex Baum informed Ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources and other stakeholders that illegal trade in wildlife has a potential to wipeout the endangered species of fauna and flora. He went on to say criminality is threatening the whole world and the same criminality is a major threat to the existence of wildlife.
Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Earl Miller congratulated the delegates for their leadership in addressing Illegal wildlife trafficking, and their efforts to expand regional cooperation against wildlife killings. He said friendships developed at the workshop will help participants in expanding investigations and give them access to previously untapped expertise, resources and creative approaches that would help put wildlife criminals behind bars.
Wildlife trafficking poses a serious threat to the survival of some of the most emblematic species and the illegal wildlife trade not only decimates wildlife populations but directly impacts the livelihoods of the predominantly rural people who rely directly on biological resources for their survival.
For his part the technical advisor of Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN), Dr. David Lawson said the international wildlife smuggling may be of interest to the conference as it presents several potential environmental and national security threats to the nations. He explained that the workshop was expected to share innovative and practical solutions to combat illegal killings and trade in wildlife that deprives the region benefits from wildlife resources. More specifically, the use of a Trade in Wildlife Information X-change (TWIX) has proven to be a very useful and efficient tool in the fight against wildlife trade. Encouraging results have therefore been recorded in the central African states as a result of the introduction of the TWIX tool.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs Crime Ms. Sinead Brody, the Toolkit is designed mainly to assist government officials in wildlife and forestry administration, police, customs and other relevant enforcement agencies. It will help them to conduct a comprehensive analysis of possible means and measures to protect wildlife and forests, monitor their use and to identify technical assistance needed. In this sense, the Toolkit may also be used as training material for law enforcement officials. In addition, other stakeholders at the international and national levels, as well as civil society, may find the Toolkit useful regarding their daily responsibilities.
Illegal trade undermines the gains that countries have made in creating stewardship among local communities and a flow of benefits from wildlife. The Chief Executive Officer of Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS), Mr. Leonard Dikobe emphasized the need to include local community in strategies for combatting illegal trade. KCS has in the past supported over 120 local communities in Botswana to manage and benefit from wildlife through the Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM).
The loss of important habitats and their plant species through destruction, deforestation, illegal logging and commercial timber trade is no less important. Where wildlife crime involves one or more of these commodities being illegally traded together, crime issues affecting one species should not be at the expense of another.
THE ROLE OF NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN SOCIAL POLICY FORMULATION AND SERVICE DELIVERY IN BOTSWANA
The Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (BOCONGO), on the 23 November 2016 gathered at Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) to address the roles played by the Non-Governmental Organizations in service delivery and social policy formulation. BOCONGO have made it vital for them to identify areas to partner with the government and participation of citizens and civil society in policy formulation.
One of the panellists speaking during conference discussions, the founder of Ditshwanelo, Ms. Alice Mogwe said, the relationship between the government and NGOs are seen to be the most effective way of solving the socio-economic problems. She said to build true relationship with the government, BOCONGO needs to be strong and the collaboration of organizations is a way to healthy relationship between the two parties. She noted that limited conceptual framework is weak among the organizations, funding and limited innovation-donor influenced direction. Domination of narrow issues turns to be individualistic. Furthermore she said to promote experience sharing with other Organizations as well as provide assistance to members on issues relating to networking, capacity building, and information dissemination and policy advocacy.
On the importance of advocacy and lobbying, Ms Mogwe said rural people may not be heard by the government when they want the government to make some reforms or review a process of its implementation. Through NGOs these silent voices can be made more audible.
In conclusion to her presentation, Ms Mogwe said limited access to information is a major challenge in Botswana. Freedom of information act needs transparency on how decisions are made within the state. It is important therefore to understand the changing policy context in which NGOs in the country operate.Effective and informed consultation is the best way of linking citizens with government.
Representatives of religious organizations also attended the conference. They shared with the conference their experiences in contributing to humanitarian assistance. Churches provided services such as education and health care since Botswana’s independence.
Botswana Democratic Party’s representative Reverent Rupert Isaac Hambira said Batswana need to learn something from the past, they need to take an action not to wait for something to happen then act later, every citizen said to be participating in the development of the country and advocacy can be done through public speaking, launching campaigns and labour rights by unions. He said his government recognizes youth and regional issues, they are working on issues of unemployment, and they are fighting poverty to improve the quality of life of the people in other regions.
For his part, Reverent Mosweu Simane of United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) talked about the erosion of national pride saying that there is a declining sense of collective identity of people as Batswana. This is a result of children not being properly educated and guided in the importance of unity to embrace our culture. “The relationship between NGOs and government is neglected and there is no how we can be silent when the government intrudes on their mandate”, he said. According to Rev. Mosweu, the political culture of Botswana is based on three areas, which are; (a) the subject, wherein a village oriented towards politics doesn’t care and don’t want to participate; (b) parochial, wherein people who know that politics affect their lives but do not do nothing about it and they just wait for something to happen; (c) active participant, wherein people are aware of the issues and are actively involved.
He added that he is not happy with the relationship between the government and the NGOs because government does not see the benefit of it. The government turned a blind eye on them, he noted. NGOs were meant to bring cohesion to the improvement of livelihoods in rural Botswana. The voice is brought to the government and the villages’ hardship may not be visible to the government and with the assistance of NGOs bridging off all the vocal effort of stakeholders to the government for intervention.
NGOs contribute in facilitation and make progress in all sectors of development program alongside the government's national action plan strategy including health, agriculture, education, democracy, small business and so on.
Community’s need may be not enough even they have mobilized the existing natural resources; sometimes they need the expert come to explain or provide them the skill training or approach to address any issue that happens in their region. That is the point which NGOs are also making the connection to make fundraising or donation to the target areas. Furthermore, they act as the mediator to resolve any rural conflict. And other communications for services availability for local people like legal consulting. Through the NGOs, the government could receive any recommendations or suggestions from workshop in order to review its national policy or strategy and fulfil the gaps more effectively.
In conclusion, the NGOs are playing a key role to bridge the rural areas and government as development partners toward community development and achieve the government’s goal. The need for the government in developing the country for NGO's role is inevitable for working as collaboration.
Since the philosophy of community development is independent from any outside agents, thus the community must rely on their own resources. NGOs assist the community to discover their potential and also mobilize communities to be self-reliant. According to the definition, empowerment is where people have greater control over livelihood resources. Therefore, the final outcome of community development is the independence of the community from external agents in formulating its agenda and managing its affairs.
Amongst a myriad of national policies aimed at community development, Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) as the secretariat of the national community based natural resources management (CBNRM) forum has been instrumental in supporting the formulation and implementation of the national CBNRM policy. The policy has transformed many rural villages through sustainable use natural resources such as water, veld products, wildlife and minerals (rocks, sands and clays)
In bringing together its members at this conference, BOCONGO contributed immensely in raising awareness about the role of NGOs and opportunities for NGO participation in national development. This initiative should result in more NGO participation in such processes as national development planning and national vision formulation, ultimately making Botswana a better place for all.