Southern Africa Regional Environment Program (SAREP) is working with permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) and local government agencies to identify and address threats to the region’s vast and diverse resources.
The organisation is building the capacity of OKACOM to manage the area’s resources across Botswana, Angola and Namibia for proper management of the Okavango Delta.
To ensure success, United States Charge’d’ Affaires Michael Murphy launched three conservation projects in Maun namely Ecostars, Trust for Okavango Cultural and Development Initiative (TOCADI) and Pabalelo Trust.
When giving out the first conservation grants in Botswana worth P477 457 to the three, Murphy said wildlife resources were just as important to the country’s future as diamonds.
“The steps we are jointly taking today will mitigate human –wildlife conflict and ensure that Botswana’s communities have a greater say in managing their natural resources.”
SAREP’s Director Steve Johnson mentioned that the grants program was designed to support projects that improve and diversify livelihoods beyond traditional agriculture.
He said they were not only contributing to improving peoples nutrition and health but also building new skills that contribute to follow on enterprises.
Pabalelo Trust with P140 170 will promote conservation agriculture in the Okavango panhandle by conducting workshops on conservation agriculture and sustainable farming.
The trust is expected to promote practises that bolster food security and minimise harm to the environment.
Ecostars got P212 304 and will also implement conservation agriculture but will focus more on minimizing human –elephant conflict which is a major problem to communities in the eastern portion of the Panhandle region of the Okavango Delta.
They will do wildlife sensitive land allocation, small scale solar fencing and use of chilli peppers. Johnson mentioned that the communities will receive training in the cultivation and harvesting of Chilli peppers, a plant known to be a major irritant to elephants when crushed, mixed with elephant dung and burnt.
TOCADI got P124 983 which they will use to refurbish a craft centre in Shakawe for local craft makers to create and market their products.