Botswana: Ncongo Calls for Consistent Funding

Maun — Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NCONGO) executive director, Mr Siyoka Simasiku has requested government to provide them with consistent funding for sustenance in addressing issues of Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM).

The organisation, which is based in Maun, works with local stakeholders and communities on issues of CBNRM, youth empowerment and environmental conservation for sustainable social and economic development.

Presenting before Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Wildlife, Tourism, Natural Resources and Climate Change on issues faced by community trusts, Mr Simasiku said the organisation had a membership of more than 40, of which 18 were community trusts.

Many of the trusts, he said, were from Ngamiland, where communities were poverty- stricken even though their district was rich in natural resources, adding that there was need to change the policy and ensure they benefited more.

Through the funding, he said NCONGO would continue providing capacity to community trusts while also representing communities' voices in such international forums as CITIES. On other issues, he expressed concern about limited participation of communities in decision-making involving quota setting, land use and commercial partnerships.

Community trusts, he said, wanted shareholding model so that they equally participate. Citing that if a trust was allocated a concession, it should know the value before entering into partnership. In addition, he said the benefits earned by the trust should also be channeled to the communities.

Mr Simasiku said currently trusts were making profits to sustain their operations and workers while communities were not benefiting from trusts at household level.

He noted that trusts should be given rights to design and negotiate commercial partnerships.

The trusts, he said, also complained about restrictive access to conservation funds, noting that National Environment Fund (NEF) generated income from Ngamiland District, but many trusts were finding it difficult to benefit from the fund.

The committee also learnt that NCONGO implemented some projects such as Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Sustainability INDEX for Southern Africa; Maun/Okavango Delta horticulture demonstration project and also conducted trust capacity building workshops.

In response, members of the committee hailed NCONGO for doing a good job in capacity-building of trusts.

The chairperson of the committee, Mr Polson Majaga said the meetings were necessitated by public concerns, hence they found it feet to have consultative meetings with trusts and assist in addressing pertinent issues.

He said they also embarked on site visits to appreciate the situation on the ground, citing Seronga, where the Department of Wildlife and National Parks had recently experienced high elephant mortality.

At the end of the meetings, he said they would develop a comprehensive report, which would be tabled before the next Parliament session. He noted that the tourism industry played a key role in the growth of the national economy, hence the need to address issues faced by operators and the communities residing in tourism areas.

A member of the committee, Mr Dumelang Saleshando advised NCONGO to prioritise issues for purpose of accountability and feedback. He said before submission, the committee would revisit NCONGO to give it some advices.

Mr Molebatsi Molebatsi assured NCONGO that the committee had the zeal to take their concerns forward, adding that access to funding from conservation funds was a struggle as other areas experienced the same challenge.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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