30 July 2017

Botswana: U.S. Celebrates Completion of Okavango Project

Maun — Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NCONGO) has successfully completed a year-long mapping exercise aimed at protecting the 'precious and fragile' Okavango Delta.

The exercise was designed to identify, categorise and assess the many civil society organisations and resources in place in the region to determine the best way forward to serve the various and immediate needs in the delta.

The project which was implemented by a team consisting of experts from various institutions was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and coordinated by NCONGO to do the targeted mapping activity and hand over the final report to the United States (US) ambassador in Botswana.

Speaking during the celebration and handing over of the report, the US ambassador, Mr Earl Miller hailed NCONGO 'for a job well done' noting that the final report and its insights was a powerful tool that would indeed help, protect and conserve the Okavango delta region going forward.

He said preservation of the delta was an important part of Botswana's future hence "we are proud to stand with our partner, NCONGO and other institutions that agreed to be part of this important undertaking".

Mr Miller said through USAID, they supported NCONGO with the launch of the mapping exercise a year ago noting that the year had flown so quickly and the urgency with which they must attend to conservation of the delta had never been more apparent.

He stated that the delta was one of Africa's most ecologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystem and was a critical habitat for many endangered wildlife species.

The delta's natural resources, he said supported traditional livelihoods of communities while ecotourism was a critical pillar of the national economy.

However, the ambassador noted that the current estimates showed that without targeted preservation efforts, the delta would cease to exist in its current form before the next generation had time to enjoy it.

Mr Miller said the US government had partnered with local organisations and the Botswana government for decades to preserve the country's environmental heritage and the national treasure which was the delta.

"Like any valuable resource, the delta has multiple stakeholders, overlapping areas of administration and management and many organisations and people who must be involved in its care. That is why this mapping exercise was so crucial," he stated.

NCONGO board chairperson, Mr Themba Bitsang thanked USAID for funding the project noting that the environmental mapping of Civil Based Organisations in Ngamiland was vital for sustainable and making informed policies that would assist in reducing extreme poverty found in the delta.

He said without proper documentation and analysis of the current CBOs capacity, it would be difficult to advocate for improved rural livelihoods.

Source : BOPA

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