Ghanzi — Two community fire teams have received fire-fighting equipment worth over P300 000 courtesy of the Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Dryland Ecosystem Project.
The equipment includes two 50 litrer water boom sprays, 10 drip torches, 15 15-litre knapsack sprayers, 150 aluminum fire beaters, 50 helmets hard hats, 50 fire-fighting boots and 100 masks.
The equipment is expected to benefit West Hanahai, East Hanahai, Bere and Kacgae settlements which fall within GH 10 and GH 11 community fire fighting teams.
Handing over the equipment on October 2, UNDP resident representative Ms Jacinta Barrins said they were looking forward to working with the two communities until 2023.
Ms Barrins noted that training of the communities was done prior to the commencement of the project.
She said community participation was critical in managing veldt fires and revealed that Ngamiland communities managed to win the battle within two years period because of the community's active participation especially when fire broke out.
Ms Barrins challenged community members to come up with a strategy that could be used to communicate with each other in the event of veldt fires.
She called on the beneficiaries to put the equipment to good use.
In his keynote address, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Mr Thato Raphaka said following the disastrous wildfires of 2008 that ravaged hectares of land, Botswana, in collaboration with the Australian government, identified areas in the country that continued to experience wildfires.
Ghanzi District was ranked amongst the top three after Chobe and Ngamiland, he said.
Consequently, Mr Raphaka said, bush fire risk management plans were developed for the identified districts.
For Ghanzi, the plan was launched in April 2017 but since implementation required financing, government has had to look to the outside world for assistance to help in the prevention, mitigation and suppression of bush fires in Botswana.
"The Global Environment Fund and UNDP came in handy by partnering with government in the management of bush fires in the country and capacitating our communities. This partnership will have a significant contribution in enabling our communities to effectively manage bushfires," he said.
Mr Raphaka expressed concern that the Ghanzi area continued to be exposed to wildfires.
He observed that community-based natural resources management called for collective citizen effort in the management of the resources.
"Your role in partnering with government to manage these resources is very crucial as government alone cannot bear impactful results," he said.
A representative of the community fire team, Mr Boitshwaro Motshabi welcomed the donation saying they would now fight fire with ease as they had relevant equipment.
Project manager, Mr Khulekani Mpofu said the ecosystem project started in 2017 with completion expected in 2023.
It is hoped that when the project ended, communities would have better management of the environment and dealing with wildlife, he said.
Mr Mpofu said the same activities would be replicated at other areas to promote resilience and livelihood improvement in different communities.
He said the project would be executed in four components.
Source : BOPA