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THE KAVANGO BASIN: A CASE STUDY

Robert K. Hitchcock

 

1. Description

The Kavango Basin is the fourth largest international river basin in southern Africa, and the Kavango is the largest river in the region that does not empty out into an ocean. Estimates of the Kavango Basin area range from 320,000 (Stanley Consultants 1995:2-13) to 570,000 sq km (Pallett 1997:73) and 586,000 to 721,277 sq km (World Resources Institute and Worldwatch Institute 1998:2-26). The main river in the catchment is the Kavango, or, as it is called in Angola, the Rio Cubango. The Kavango River rises in the southern Angolan highlands, flows southeastwards some 650 km to Namibia, where it forms the border for some 350 km. The river then turns southwards, crosses the Caprivi Strip (a distance of 60 km), and then flows into Botswana, where it supplies the Kavango Delta. The major tributary of the Kavango River in Angola is the Rio Cuito, and the catchment for the two rivers together is some 120,000, nearly all of which is in Angola.

Mean annual runoff at the mouth of the Kavango River is 11,000,000 cubic meters per annum. Water inflow to the Kavango Delta ranges from 7,000,000 to 15,000,000 cubic meters and averages 10,000,000 cubic meters per annum. The vast majority of this inflow (97%) is lost to evapotranspiration and seepage. The long-term outflow of the Delta is estimated to range from 253-345 MCM/year (Scudder et al 1993:7).

The Kavango River flows during the summer months, and in the fall the waters rise, supplied by earlier rainfall in Angola. The floods in the Kavango River supply the resources for a vast complex of waterways, reedbeds, floodplain, and islands that makes up the Kavango Delta in Botswana. The Kavango catchment can be divided roughly into three different zones:

(1) the Angolan region, which contains numerous tributaries which feed into the river; the confluence of the Rio Cubango and the Rio Cuito is a permanent swamp;

(2) the middle section, in which the river flows in a narrow alluvial plain up to 6 km wide (e.g along the Namibian border and across the Caprivi, and

(3) the so-called Panhandle region in Botswana, where the river spreads out eventually into the Kavango Delta itself where it dissipates.

The Kavango Delta of northwestern Botswana is a large inland delta or alluvial fan consisting of about 6,000 square kilometers of permanent swamp and between 7,000 and 12,000 square kilometers of seasonally inundated swampland (McCarthy 1993:283). Sometimes referred to as "the jewel of the Kalahari" (Ross 1987), the Kavango is a vast flood plain that supports a rich variety of plant and animal life (Botswana Society 1976; Lanting 1993; Lee and Lanting 1990). The Kavango Delta is the only Ramsar Site in the Kavango Basin, having been designated as Ramsar=s first Wetland of International Importance. At 68,640 square kilometers, it is the largest Ramsar site in the world, according to the Ramsar Convention Bureau. .

The Kavango Delta, the largest of its kind in Africa, is considered to be highly significant, both from the standpoint of its geomorphology and hydrology and its biological richness. Not only does it contain over 1,100 different species of plants and 65-70 species of fish, but it also supports a wide variety of large and small faunal species, some of which, including the sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei) are rare. The archaeological and historical records indicate long-standing human use (Campbell 1976).

 

2. Countries Involved: Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe

The percentages of the Kavango catchment in each country are as follows: Angola (28%), Namibia (30%), Botswana (39%), Zimbabwe (4%) (Stanley Consultants 1995:4-11)

 

3. Basin Agreement

In September, 1994, Angola, Namibia, and Botswana signed an agreement to create the Kavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM).

 

4. Institutional Structure

A Trilateral Permanent Water Commission (TPWC) that includes Angola, Namibia, and Botswana was proposed in 1994 in order to provide advice on environmentally and socially sustainable development of Kavango River waters. The Permanent Kavango river Basin Commission involving Namibia, Angola, and Botswana, deals specifically with the Kavango River Basin.

 

5. Administrative Structure

In Botswana, the Department of Water Affairs in the Ministry of Mines, Minerals, and Water Affairs is the main agency responsible for water. Mines arrange their own water supplies which are subject to the provisions of the Water Act or, in the case of the copper and nickel mine, they get their water from the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), the agency that is mainly responsible for water in urban areas. The legislation which relates to the WUC is the Water Utilities Corporation Act. Other relevant legislation includes the Aquatic Weeds (Control) Act and Orders, the Boreholes Act, the Waterworks Act, the Town Councils (Public Sewers) Regulations, the Mines and Minerals Act. In the rural areas, it is the District Councils in Botswana that oversee water supply. In some situations, such as in the livestock and agricultural sector, water provision is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture. Some non-government organizations also work in the area of water supply, one example being Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which works in northern Kgalagadi District in conjunction with Maiteko Tshwaragano Development Trust (MTDT) at Zutshwa, south of the Matsehng Villages.

The department in Namibia that is responsible for administering the Water Act of 1956

is the Department of Water Affairs . Rural water supply development is done by the Directorate of Rural Water Supply. Water in the agricultural sector is overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development. There is a Division of Hydrology in the Directorate of Resource Management which deals with the administration of the Water Act. As is the case in both Botswana and Angola, water development is also done by private sector operators, including borehole drilling companies. Municipalities in Namibia also deal directly with water, ensuring that water is reticulated and that there are adequate waste disposal facilities.

In Angola, the water directorate in the Department of Agriculture is responsible for overseeing water resources. The management of water resources in the Kavango has been a subject of discussion in Angola, as has the possibility of developing a new dam on Cunene River (see the Cunene Basin Case Study).

 

6. Administrative Structures at the District Level in the Riparian States

6.1. Angola

The Kavango River flows through southeastern Angola, where there are a number of districts that have high potential for irrigated and flood-recession agriculture. Initial surveys in this area indicate that the region could provide important agricultural and economic development opportunities in the future. The district administrations in the region are in need of assistance, both technical and financial.

6.2. Namibia

The Kavango River flows along the northern border of the Kavango Region of Namibia and forms the boundary between Kavango and Caprivi Regions. To the east of the Kavango river is the West Caprivi Game Reserve. The eastern boundary of this reserve is the Kwando River, another international river shared by Namibia, Botswana, and Angola. West Caprivi forms the western portion of the Caprivi Region, one of Namibia's 13 regions defined by a Delimitation Commission in 1992. West Caprivi is part of one political constituency, that of Mukwe, which is named after the headquarters of the Mbukushu chief west of the Kavango River. Administration of the region is in the hands of the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

6.3. Botswana

The Kavango Delta and Panhandle fall in the North West District of Botswana (Ngamiland), one of 10 districts in the country. The North West District is 109,130 square kilometers in size. The district land use plan indicates that 61,840 sq km (56.7% of the district) has been zoned communal, land which is under customary tenure and which can be allocated to people for residential, arable, grazing, and residential purposes. Two areas of North West District covering 6,950 sq km, or 6.4% of the district have been designated as commercial land which can be leased out to individuals and groups who then have de jure leasehold rights over that land in exchange for a rental payment to the district land board (the Tawana Land Board).

The North West District has long recognized the importance of natural resources to is economic, social, and political well-being. The Tawana tribe, the main ethnic group occupying the district, established a tribal game reserve at Moremi in the late 1950s, one of the first of its kind in Africa. A fairly sizable proportion of the district=s land has been designated either as game reserve (3,600 sq km, or 3.3%) or Wildlife Management Areas (19,100 sq km, or 17.5%), areas in which wildlife and habitat conservation and tourism are to be the primary land uses. In addition, some of North West District=s land is considered State Land (17,640 sq km, or 16.2%), some of which has been allocated for use by the Ministry of Agriculture (e.g. as veterinary camps for livestock).

The land use zoning by North West District authorities acknowledges the region's special environmental qualities by setting aside large areas in which the primary land use is to be the utilization of natural resources (Kavango Community Consultants 1995). There were four Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) zoned in the North West District land use plan: (1) Kwando, (2) Kavango, (3) Ngamiland State Lands, and (4) G/wihaba (Quihaba). After 1989, the WMAs were subdivided further into rezoned Controlled Hunting Areas. Some of these Controlled Hunting Areas have been zoned for community use. The idea behind having Community-Controlled Hunting Areas was that these units, if they were controlled by a single institution such as a company or a community trust, would theoretically lead to better natural resource management and greater economic returns to local people.

 

7. Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Kavango Basin

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 Namibians gain their livelihood from the Kavango River (Stanley Consultants 1995:4-11). Overall population density for the Kavango Basin is approximately 3 persons per square kilometer. In Botswana, there are some 25,000 people in the Kavango Delta itself, many of whom are relatively heavily dependent on the water and other resources associated with the Kavango (Scudder et al 1993). In West Caprivi, Namibia, there were 4,411 people according to the 1991 Namibian population census.

The human inhabitants of the Kavango region support themselves through a combination of strategies, including foraging, fishing, agriculture, livestock-raising, and wage labor. An important production system in the Kavango Delta is flood-recession (molapo) agriculture. In the past, local people engaged relatively extensively in hunting and they sold meat to people in Maun, Botswana and other major villages. An important source of income for people in the Kavango region is the sale of firewood, thatching grass, poles, and palm leaves which are used for making baskets.

Access to natural resources such as fish, thatching grass, palms (for baskets), and wildlife in the Kavango region is not necessarily completely equitable. As Skjonesberg and Merafe (1987:16) note, "Generally fishing grounds are open to everybody, but territoriality seems] to develop in areas that have been fished by certain groups or families.@ Thus, while the productive resources (fish, water, vegetation) of the Kavango region were considered common property resources, groups and communities did lay claim to specific areas where they foraged and carried out agricultural and other kinds of activities.

The West Caprivi region of Namibia, which is 5,715 square kilometers in extent, contained approximately 6,600 people in the mid-1990s (Kasita and Nujoma 1995:8). The ethnic composition of the region is relatively homogeneous, with two San (Bushman) groups (Kxoe and Vasekele) and one Bantu-speaking group, the Mbukushu, residing there. The estimated population of Kxoe is 4-6,000 while the population of Vasekele (also known as !Xu) is 300-400 in West Caprivi. Most of the Vasekele, who came originally from Angola and number approximately 6,000 in Namibia, are found in Western Bushmanland (now called Otjozondjupa) and what used to be Ovamboland (primarily in Omusati and Oshana Regions). Many of the Mbukushu had left the West Caprivi area in the 1940s because of an expansion of tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans). Subsequently, some of them were moved westwards by the South West African administration after the game reserve was declared in 1963. Since independence in 1990, the government of Namibia has allowed Mbukushu and other groups to return to West Caprivi, with some of them settling close to the Kavango River. Some members of these groups were allocated rights to houses and plots of land in what used to be the large South African Defense Force camp of Omega.

The ethnic composition of the Kavango Delta region of Botswana is somewhat more diverse than is the case for the West Caprivi region of Namibia (Campbell 1976; Scudder at al 1993:54-69). The Kavango Delta was inhabited by at least a dozen groups, with others having immigrated to the region over the past several hundred years (e.g. the Mbukushu, who came from the Middle Zambezi region). The population of the North West District stood at 94,194 according to the 1991 Botswana population census. Nearly 30% of the population of Ngamiland resides in Maun, the district capital.

 

8. Development Plans

The Kavango Delta and the Kavango river have long been of interest to planners and government development agencies in southern Africa. As early as 1859 James Chapman, an early explorer of the northern part of Botswana, suggested that irrigation schemes might be developed south of the Kavango Delta and north of Lake Ngami. A large-scale irrigation and water transfer scheme was proposed by E.H.L. Schwarz in 1919. A.L. Du Toit proposed an irrigation scheme that included the Botletle (Boteti) River, Mababe Depression, and Lake Ngami in 1926. In 1955 J.H. Wellington proposed that Popa Falls on the Kavango River be developed for hydroelectric purposes. In 1963 B.G.A. Lund suggested constructing a canal that would link the Zambezi and Kavango river basins. In the late 1960s, Professor D.C. Midgeley recommended transferring water from the Kavango Delta to Pretoria via eastern Botswana. Smaller-scale proposals for water resource development in the southern Kavango Delta were made by the United Nations Development Program (see Botswana Society 1976) and by the firm Snowy Mountains Engineering, working as consultants for the government of Botswana (see Scudder et al 1993 for a summary of these proposals).

In 1996, an issue arose between the governments of Namibia and Botswana over the use of the waters of the Kavango River. In June, 1996, the government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) decided to extract water from the Kavango and to transfer the water by pipeline to the Eastern National Water Carrier at Grootfontein which would, in turn, transfer water to the Windhoek area in central Namibia. Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, had less than an 18-month water supply and was facing a continuation of the serious drought that had affected much of southern Africa at that time.

The initial proposal of the Namibian government was to do an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) only in Namibia. It was pointed out by the government of Botswana and various environmental organizations, however, that the EIA should examine downstream impacts of the water extraction project as well. The government of Botswana contended that the extraction of water from the river by Namibia could reduce flows into the Kavango Delta, and it noted that the Delta was a major wetland that supports sizable human and wildlife populations and that it is an important tourist destination. The result could potentially be complicated, it was argued, for the Delta and its inhabitants.

For its part, the government of Botswana in the 1980s had proposed the establishment of a major water project in the southern portion of the Kavango Delta, the Southern Kavango Integrated Water Development Project (SOIWDP). This project was opposed strongly by local people, and the project was suspended after a review was done by a team of experts working with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) (Scudder et al 1993). The government of Botswana had agreed to an independent review of the project, something that set a major precedent, since it was the first time that a national government had asked out outside agency to conduct a review of a major water development project. A set of alternatives was provided by the IUCN consultants which emphasized the exploitation of groundwater, the diversification of local economies, capacity-building of local institutions, and community involvement in the management of the Kwando and Kavango Wildlife Management Areas (Scudder et al 1993).

Complications arose in Botswana with the outbreak of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), or lungsickness, among cattle in western Ngamiland in February, 1995. The Botswana government decided to erect a series of cordon fences, including a game and livestock proof fence immediately south of the West Caprivi Game Reserve in northeastern Namibia. Namibia and various environmental organizations argued that the construction of this barrier could potentially have negative impacts on the region=s wildlife and environmental resource base. It was also pointed out that the fences could affect the success of some community-based natural resource management projects (CBNRMPs) that were on-going in the West Caprivi region.

The idea of trusts, cooperatives, village share holding corporations, or other types of institutions for community level utilization of economically valuable flora and fauna is being implemented in several parts of North West District, including Sankuyo, just to the south of Moremi Game Reserve, and the village of Khwaai, which is at North Gate, one of the entrances to Moremi. These community-based natural resource management programs each have their own unique features. Sankuyo, for example, leased out its rights over wildlife resources to a safari operator in exchange for payments of P285,000 (US $79,230) in 1996 and P345,000 (US $95,910) in 1997 (Lucy Maotonyane, personal communication, 1997). Khwaai has opted to run its own programs and not to sub-lease the rights over its resources.

One of the trends in the Kavango region in Namibia and Botswana is toward greater privatization. In Botswana, dozens of safari camps have been established in the Delta and in the Savuti area in the past two decades and tourist visits to the region have increased substantially.

 

9. Water Use in Botswana

Water use in Botswana was estimated in the mid-1980s to be approximately 350,000 cubic meters per capita per day (Artnzen and Veenendaal 1986:15). It is not known what the maximum sustainable water consumption is because data on aquifers and recharge rates are inadequate. In Botswana, irrigation and livestock were the main water users in National Development Plan 6 (1985-1991) (irrigation: 35.1%, livestock, 35.6, urban, 11.6%, mining, 12.6%, and villages and other uses, 5.1%) (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning 1985). Urban and village water use has increased quickly as a result of population growth and economic development, as well as urbanization and better infrastructure (e.g. water standpipes that provide 15 liters per person per day, on site stations that provide 60 liters per person per day, and water infrastructure inside the house=s of people, 150 liters per person per day. The increase in water demand and use has been greatest in Gaborone, where the water consumption in 1985 was seven times what it was at independence (Arntzen and Veenendaal 1986).

There are differences in water use by sector, as well as in the pattern of water use. The Livestock sector is a major consumer of water, as is the urban sector. Rural people tend to use less water than those in towns and cities. Women spend more time collecting and dealing with water than men, but male-dominated industries (e.g. mining) tend to utilize substantial amounts of water.

Botswana=s largest perennial surface water sources are located in the north of the country (the Kavango and the Chobe). Surface water sources in Botswana such as the Kavango Delta generally have the following characteristics: (a) The largest sources occur where demand is presently low, (b) The catchment areas of most large sources are partly outside the country, 8 The water bodies have high rates of evapotranspiration (up to 2 meters or more per annum), (d) The availability of water is related positively to rainfall, which is highly variable in space and time, and the size of the catchment area. As Arntzen and Veenendaal (1986 point out, the major water problem in Botswana is to satisfy the increasing demand in a sustainable and affordable manner.

The causes of increased water usage and water scarcity are related to population growth, population concentration, the diversification of human activities, and to development itself, which helps to increase incomes and improve infrastructure. This, in turn, leads to increased water consumption. There is an urgent need to integrate the administration of water resource use at various levels. The water laws provide for some protection, but regulations sometimes overlap, and they are not always enforced. A major problem in the livestock sector of Botswana is that although land use planning efforts are expanding both in number and sophistication, the ad hoc drilling of boreholes continues without any real controls being implemented to ensure better range management. Efforts are now being made to coordinate activities between the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs (MMRWA), the Department of Geological Survey (DGS) in the same ministry, the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), which is a parastatal under MMRWA and the Ministry of Local Government, Lands, and Housing (MLGLH) which has overall responsibility for land use planning and policy and deals with local authorities including the District Councils and the Tribal Administrations. In the case of the latter, it is traditional leaders (chiefs and headmen) who still have some say over water point allocation, even though their land and water management responsibilities have largely been taken over by district Land Boards under the Tribal Land Act of 1968. Some water development in Botswana is done by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), which has a number of sections, including the Department of Agricultural Field Services which deals with crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, range ecology, and land development.

In Botswana there are also many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), most of which were established originally for cultural and social purposes; now there are a number of environmentally oriented NGOs, including:

Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS): an NGO mainly involved with wildlife conservation but it also deals with integrated resources management and conservation education.

Forestry Association of Botswana (FAB): an NGO involved with establishment of agroforestry programs, research into indigenous species, and extension work

Thusano Lefatsheng: an NGO involved primarily with the protection and utilization of indigenous species of veld plants such as Devil=s Claw (Grapple Plant) and Morama (tsin beans)

Botswana Society: a broad-based NGO that publishes a journal, hosts scientific meetings, and promotes cultural and environmental awareness

Permaculture: an NGO that promotes sustainable agriculture and resource management in rural areas

 

10. Land Tenure and Water Resource Rights

Shifts occurred in land use in the Kavango region of Botswana over time, particularly with the imposition of wildlife conservation laws (e.g. the Fauna Conservation Act of 1961, now replaced by the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act, 1992) and the establishment of the Moremi Game Reserve by the Batawana Tribe, one of the first tribal game reserves in Africa. There were also changes in land management and administration patterns, especially after Botswana=s independence in 1966. The powers of traditional authorities (chiefs and wardheads) over land allocation were transferred to government land boards under the Tribal Land Act of 1968. The land boards have the power to allocate land for residential, arable, grazing, and business purposes, and it is the land boards who oversee the land use zoning and planning process in conjunction with the district councils.

One of the major changes that occurred during the 19th century in what is now the North West District of Botswana was the spread of water points, particularly wells. As the number of water points expanded, the distribution and densities of livestock increased, and people were able to establish cattle posts (meraka) some distance away from permanent water. In a semiarid ecosystem such as that of the northern Kalahari Desert, water is a critical natural resource. It is crucial to the survival of people, their animals, and their crops, and it serves a critical role in maintaining ecosystem viability. It was also crucial in Tswana thought and ritual. The term pula (rain), for instance, is used as a positive statement at the end of all chiefly or political addresses in Botswana.

Traditionally, there was only a limited sense of private ownership of water resources. As was the case with land, water sources generally were associated with social units (families, wards). Open surface waters such as rivers and springs were available for domestic use by individuals and groups (Schapera 1943:243-246). In grazing districts, on the other hand, use of surface water in the past was supposed to be confined to the wards granted access to those areas. Individuals belonging to other wards who drove cattle through the grazing areas were allowed to water their animals only after seeking permission from the modisa (overseer) or local wardheads. People who water their herds in another group's grazing area run the risk of having their animals confiscated. Trespassing was seen as an infringement on the rights of local grazing resource users.

The digging of wells in grazing districts was a crucial factor in bringing about changes in land management and administration patterns in Botswana (Hitchcock 1990; Peters 1994). Under Tswana customary law, open surface water was free to be used by anyone who wished. Where water was obtained through the expenditure of capital or labor, as in the case of construction or well digging, people were able to keep their water for personal use. They had to seek permission from grazing district overseers (known as badisa, like the term for herder), but once they had done so, they had de facto access to the land surrounding the water point.

Changes in water technology initiated early in the 20th century served to restructure social relations among the various groups in Botswana. The digging of wells with the aid of dynamite and, later, the drilling of boreholes, led to a shift away from communal access to water resources to a system in which private ownership predominates. Water resources developed by individuals can be passed down from one generation to the next. The only people with rights to these resources are the kin of the person who originally made the investment of labor and capital in developing the water source. There were cases, of course, of conflicts over access to water resources. It was in the best interests of individuals to try and resolve those conflicts, as they had the potential for disrupting social relations at the community or even regional level.

The rights to use and control water resources in Botswana are somewhat complicated. On the one hand, individuals had the right to use surface water for domestic purposes, while on the other, groups could restrict access to water resources of specific types or in certain places. Wells were owned privately but could be used communally. In order to ensure continued access to water sources, one needed to ensure that positive social relationships were maintained. In times of stress, people called on their alliances in order to ensure access to water. A rule among Tswana and other groups in Botswana is that individuals in dire need of water for themselves or their animals should be granted access to it.

Major shifts in patterns of user rights to water resources came about with the introduction of boreholes. Individuals and groups that sunk boreholes had to invest substantial amounts of capital and labor in this endeavor. Those individuals with the resources to have boreholes dug were able to gain de facto rights over the water and the grazing surrounding the water point. These water points were controlled by the families who developed them, and they could deny other people access to that water and nearby grazing. There were instances in which families or syndicates (groups of cattle owners who invest in a borehole or well) charged other people for rights to use the water. Some chiefs (e.g. Khama III of the Bamangwato) resented this type of action and declared that water must not be sold but rather than it must be given freely or not at all (Schapera 1943:246).

Besides open natural surface waters, wells, and private boreholes, there were also water sources that were available to the public. In the Kgatleng, for example, a chief, Isang, raised money through a levy and had a number of boreholes drilled which were then made available for use by the Kgatla (Schapera 1943:247, 1970:40-41, 99; Peters 1994). The Bechuanaland Protectorate Administration also had boreholes drilled, mainly in villages. It is important to note that the Resident Commissioner recommended the imposition of certain rules regarding use of the new water points in order to prevent overgrazing (Schapera 1943:247-248, 1970:99). These rules included the stipulation that the chief could establish limits on the numbers of livestock kept at each water point.

Another suggestion was that limits should be placed on the amount of water pumped and the size of water storage tanks. In grazing areas, individuals watering their cattle at tribal or Protectorate Administration boreholes were supposed to pay fees for the privilege (Schapera 1943:244- 248, 1970:99). The money generated was supposed to go to the Tribal Treasury, which then used it to maintain the pumps and to pay for people to take care of the facilities.

Borehole drilling in drier areas of rural Botswana (e.g. the Kalahari) facilitated expansion of the number of livestock that could be kept. It also ensured that water was available year- round, whereas in the past it usually was available only seasonally. The rising numbers of livestock and the reduction of their mobility contributed to a process of overgrazing and environmental degradation. As a consequence, both chiefs and the Protectorate Administration began to call for the privatization of land in order to counteract what they saw as problems of communal land and water access. This situation was by no means new; privatization had already occurred in freehold ranching areas, where individuals and groups were granted de jure rights to land in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Schapera 1943). The situation in Botswana today is a product of the history of land and water use and interactions among resident and immigrant groups.

 

11. Natural Resource Management in Botswana

The people of the Kavango Delta and surrounding areas utilize a wide variety of plant resources, some of which are eaten, others of which are used as fuel, construction, and manufacturing materials, and still others as medicines. Vegetation resources are covered in part by the Agricultural Resources Conservation Act and the Herbage Preservation (Prevention of Fires) Act, and range conservation activities are promoted through the Agricultural Resources Board (ARB) of the government of Botswana. At the local level, there are conservation committees in some communities that engage in conservation and resource management activities. Some local groups, such as those around Etsha on the western side of the Kavango Delta, are involved actively in both the exploitation and conservation of palm trees (Hyphaene ventricosa) which are used for basket manufacture (for a list of the various plants used in craft manufacture in Ngamiland, see the attached table).

Fishing activities in the Kavango region are controlled to a limited extent by the Fisheries Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture since the government provides financial aid, training, equipment (gillnets, boats, motors, etc.), salt and salting pans, and a market for salted fish. The Forestry Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture engages in efforts to promote the sustainable use and conservation of timber resources, although some critics point out that much of the emphasis of the Unit, like that of the Forest Service in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the United States, is more on commercial timber exploitation. The concessions that have been granted over blocks of forest land have generally been to companies or individuals rather than local communities. Some local groups, such as ones in the Chobe Enclave and in Ngamiland, have considered starting agroforestry projects, and they have received assistance from the Forestry Association of Botswana, Permaculture, and other non-government organizations.

Wildlife resources in Botswana are managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. There is a Regional Wildlife Officer (RWO) based in Maun. The original land use plan for North West District had designated only two Controlled Hunting Areas for communal wildlife utilization. The IUCN Study (Scudder et al 1993) recommended that the number of community-controlled hunting areas be increased to at least seven. Local people have argued for communal rights to resources in the other controlled hunting areas which are zoned as either multi-purpose or photographic.

Currently, there are a number of community-based natural resource management programs that are on-going in the Kavango Delta region. One of these is at Sankuyo, which is located to the south of Moremi in NG 34. This project, which was founded in 1995, is managed by the Sankuyo Tswharagano Management Trust (STMT) with assistance from the North West District Council, the Natural Resources Management Project, and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP). A second project is at Khwaai, adjacent to the north gate of Moremi Game Reserve, a community located in NG 19 but with rights to obtain natural resources in NG 18, which together cover an area of 1,995 square kilometers. The Khwaai community hopes to run its own program without having to resort to leasing out the rights over the resources to a private entrepreneur, something that was done by Sankuyo, which contracted with a safari company. A problem is that many of the financial benefits of safari hunting and ecotourism at present go to either the state or to private companies, with communities receiving only a small percentage of the economic returns.

 

12. Natural Resource Management in Namibia

The major difficulties facing some of the communities in the Kavango region today include remoteness, low to moderate incomes, and, for some insecurity of land tenure. A substantial portion of the population of the West Caprivi region of Namibia, southeastern Angola, and northern and western Ngamiland in Botswana lives well below the poverty datum line (PDL). In Namibia, some of the West Caprivi people were on pensions, while an even larger number of people were dependent on food relief provided through the Council of Churches of Namibia (CCN) and delivered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN). Some individuals, primarily men, have been able to get short-term jobs working on the tarring of the road from Bagani across West Caprivi and working for tourist lodges in the area. Women generally have been less fortunate except for their involvement in the craft industry, which has provided them with access to a limited amount of cash (Hitchcock and Murphree 1995).

The introduction of what became known as the West Caprivi Community-based Conservation Program in the Caprivi Region was hailed by local people and non-government organizations alike as having significant potential in terms of its enabling people to expand their incomes and to strengthen local institutions. This program is managed jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) of Namibia and a non-government organization, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), with financial and technical support from the Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project, a joint Government of Namibia-U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project (No, 690-0251.73). The goals of the LIFE Project are (1) to build up the region's natural resource base, (2) to strengthen the capacity of local communities to manage and conserve natural resources, and (3) to facilitate the return of social and economic benefits from natural resources to local communities. The primary means of achieving these objectives have been (1) the establishment of community game guard (CGG) and community resource monitor (CRM) systems in West Caprivi, (2) the setting up and training of an inter-community steering committee (the West Caprivi Steering Committee, WCSC), and (3) the promotion economic enterprises such as craft manufacture and sale through the Bagani Committee for Craft Marketing, which established a crafts center at Bagani in West Caprivi.

The game guards have been relatively successful in terms of carrying out patrols in the region and reporting on poaching in the area. The game guards also take part in the monitoring of the wildlife, collecting data on numbers and distributions. The data collection strategy is in the process of being refined, and hopefully the results will be useful in gaining additional scientific insights into West Caprivi wildlife populations (for a description of the wildlife tracking by San, see Stander et al 1997). The data may also end up being used in coming up with estimates for local hunting quotas that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism would then recognize. This would mean that Namibia would be the only country in Africa to allow local communities to have a direct input in quota-setting, an activity normally carried out solely by government wildlife departments.

In 1997, there were 24 Community Game Guards in West Caprivi, 21 of them Kxoe (Barakwena, Mbarakwena), the predominant San group in the region, and 3 Vasekele (!Kung) San.The Community Game Guards have helped to enhance environmental awareness in West Caprivi communities through some of their discussions with local people. They have also played roles in problem animal control (PAC), sometimes sleeping in the fields with local residents to guard the crops, and in confiscating illegal arms. In addition, they have served an important liaison role between the government of Namibia, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and local communities.

An important and beneficial innovation by Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation in West Caprivi has been the introduction of community resource monitors. These community-based individuals, all of whom are women, carry out a number of tasks, including (1) assisting local people in the identification and use of various wild plant (veld) products, (2) monitoring the availability of economically important plants and other resources, (3) disseminating information on which plants are in short supply and suggesting alternatives for them, (4) providing information to communities on conservation and resource management issues, (5) assisting local people in craft production and marketing, and (6) serving as nodes in information networks at the grassroots level. These individuals also serve as communication links between local communities and IRDNC and other agencies in the region. As Garth Owen-Smith (personal communication) put it, community resource monitors are "promoters, not prohibitors." They provide information to local people on resources that can be used for generating income and solving problems (e.g. medicinal herbs for dealing with illness and injuries). They have also been instrumental in working with local people on sometimes contentious issues such as the use of fire in ecosystem management.

The 18 community resource monitors (CRMs) in West Caprivi worked half-time at N$200 a month in the mid- to late 1990s. They coordinated their efforts with the Community Game Guards, something that was especially important because of the issue of whether or not local people were allowed to collect firewood and food and medicinal plant resources in areas where poaching is occurring. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism was reluctant to allow women and children into these areas for fear that they might be harmed by anti-poaching operations. Local people, on the other hand, wanted to be able to continue to collect wild plant resources and to be guaranteed their safety if they did so. This situation argued for coordination with the regional wildlife office in Katima Mulilo in East Caprivi to ensure that a unified set of messages was delivered to local people by field-level project personnel.

Thanks in part to the improved monitoring in the region, there are indications of an increase in wildlife numbers in West Caprivi, particularly elephant. While this is to a degree seasonal, the central area has the potential for a more stable and abundant wildlife population through the judicious introduction of permanent game water points, something that is being investigated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The West Caprivi region contains approximately 130 mammal species, a significant percentage of which (44%) are considered endangered, threatened, or vulnerable (Brown and Jones 1994:34-35). As one of the few areas in Namibia with exploitable populations of elephant and buffalo, its safari hunting and tourism revenue generating potential is high.

A concern of the government of Namibia is the potential impacts that could result from the construction of a game and livestock proof veterinary cordon fence south of the West Caprivi Game Reserve by the government of Botswana. This fence was envisioned by the Botswana government as a means of preventing the movement of both wild and domestic animals out of the Caprivi into Botswana, where an outbreak of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) had occurred in 1995-96. Botswana reacted to this outbreak quickly, commencing a cattle eradication campaign that eventually saw the destruction of over 300,000 cattle in the North West District.

On the Namibian side, the West Caprivi Game Reserve contains a number of rare or endangered species, including elephant, sable antelope, roan, and lechwe as well as more common species such as wildebeest, zebra, and impala. Some of these animals move back and forth across the border of Namibia and Botswana, depending on climatic and vegetation conditions. During the dry season, animals tend to congregate along the Kavango and Kwando Rivers. The West Caprivi Game Reserve is also one of the few game reserves in southern Africa in which people are allowed to reside and to exploit local resources.

Namibian officials, non-government organizations working in West Caprivi, and local people were worried that veterinary cordon fences in Botswana would cut off movements of animals into and out of the West Caprivi Game Reserve. Namibia and Botswana were in the process of discussing the cordon fence issue in mid-1998, and it was unclear whether or not Botswana would re-align the fence or remove it altogether. The Ad Hoc Committee on Fences (ACOF) of the government of Botswana recommended to the Botswana Cabinet that the first 30 kilometers of the fence along the Namibian border west of the Kwando be removed in order to allow for wildlife movements back and forth across the border. Thus, veterinary cordon fencing became an important transboundary issue in the relations between Botswana and Namibia.

One of the constraints in the West Caprivi community-based natural resource management program has been the limited number of economic enterprises that have been initiated in the region. The two main potential sources of income that have been worked out thus far are (1) sales of crafts to tourists, and (2) the Bagani Community Campsite. Ecotourism also has the potential for generating significant amounts of income to local communities (Barnes 1995). Sales of crafts made from local natural resources are an important source of income, especially for women, in the Caprivi Region (Terry, Lee, and LeRoux 1994).

The Bagani Campsite, which is known as N//goava, has been the subject of dispute between local Khoe community and the government of Namibia. In 1996, the Namibian government decided to turn the land where the campsite was located into a prison farm to be overseen by the Ministry of Prisons and Correctional Services. This was done in spite of the fact that the Khoe reportedly had followed all appropriate procedures in applying for Permission to Occupy (PTO) and had sought conservancy status for the campsite area. In 1996, the government of Namibia decided to establish a prison farm on a plot of land that was the site of a Kxoe tourism camp that had been set up in 1995. The conflict between the Kxoe and the government of Namibia over the prison farm has reached the Namibian High Court, with the Legal Assistance Center (LAC) representing the Kxoe. It remains to be seen what decision the High Court will make.

The fundamental difficulty lies in the indeterminate status of land and the indeterminate status of authority structures (both government and traditional) in West Caprivi. Formally, all of West Caprivi has the status of a Game Reserve (with the exception of the Kwando Triangle), the Game Reserve being divided into core wildlife areas and a "multiple use" area with human settlement and limited agricultural activity (Brown and Jones 1994). The area falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, but the de facto situation is that other government ministries or agencies (e.g. Prisons, Agriculture, Lands and Resettlement) have taken the initiative to start projects or to re-arrange settlement in the area. The local institutions have lacked the capacity to negotiate effectively with government agencies, and as a result they have been unable to prevent plans from being made elsewhere without seeking of input and advice from the current residents of the area.

The same lack of jurisdictional clarity applies to traditional authority. The Kxoe and the Vasekele are united under one chieftainship, but this chieftainship has not yet been recognized by the government of Namibia. The Kxoe and Vasekele fall under the authority of Chief Mbambo of the Mbukushu. Efforts have been made to get the government of Namibia to recognize San authorities, something that was agreed upon in principle after discussions about the new Traditional Authorities Act.(Hinz 1995; Thoma and Piek 1997).

There have also been complications arising from decisions about the handling of claims to arable and residential plots in the area. A number of residents of Omega said in 1995 that they were being requested to move out of the former base. What this meant for them was that they would have to leave their homes which they had paid for themselves. Some of the Barakwena and Vasekele had already gone to Bagani, others had moved west to Chetto, Mashambu, and Dodge City, and still others had returned to their former territories in the West Caprivi (e.g. to Xhamxhom or //am//om), and a few had moved south into Botswana. (It should be noted that in November, 1998, some 2-3,000 Khoe and other people from West Caprivi left their homes and moved into Botswana and sought refugee status because of concerns about their future).

Allocations of plots four hectares in size had been made by the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation to people in several West Caprivi sites, including Bagani and Chetto. While the land was officially demarcated, there was still a question about whether or not the plots had actually been registered in the names of the people who were allocated them. Land for grazing was not provided, causing consternation among local people, some of whom had acquired livestock or were in the process of doing so. To complicate matters further, there have been mixed messages coming from the government of Namibia and the regional authorities as to whether or not people will be allowed to keep sizable numbers of livestock in the game reserve.

Clearly, the land tenure situation is both complicated and in need of clarification. Perhaps the most critical problem facing the people of West Caprivi is what could be described as a "jurisdictional open access" situation. Outsiders are moving in to West Caprivi, and there are few, if any, efforts being made to control the in-migration. Unless there is a resolution to these situations, community-based natural resource management has a dim future in West Caprivi, and the socioeconomic situation of local people there will continue to be problematic.

 

13. East Caprivi, Namibia

East Caprivi is a heterogeneous region in eastern Namibia consisting of national parks, municipalities (Kutima Mulilo), towns, villages, hamlets, and dispersed extended family homesteads in forest and tree-bush savanna areas of Caprivi Region. It is the fastest-growing region in Namibia, in part because of migration into the region over the past several years. There are three major ethnic groups in the region: (1) the Mafwe, whose main tribal headquarters, or khuta, is at Linyanti; (2) the Mayeyi (Yeyi), who established a new khuta at Sangwali in 1992; and (3) the Subiya, whose khuta is at Bukalo in the eastern part of East Caprivi. Other groups include Mbukushu, Barakwena San, and Tswana-speakers. The total population of the East Caprivi area in 1991 was 66,622 people. The population growth rate of this region is the highest in Namibia (some 6.5% per annum).

There are prime resource and tourism areas along the Kwando and Linyanti Rivers and in the eastern end of Caprivi along the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. People in the Kwando-Linyanti areas interact with those in West Caprivi, although their administrative links are to Kutima Mulilo and to the chiefdoms in East Caprivi. Progress in pilot economic enterprises in the area is evident, including a traditional village at Lizauli, a grass cropping project (which is ecologically friendly and the highest revenue-generating economic enterprise thus far), and a bed-night levy at Lianshulu Lodge that results in revenue sharing among villages near Lianshulu. All of these activities exhibit a measure of success and have served as a diffuse demonstration of the revenue generating potential of natural resources.

The enterprises that exist in East Caprivi are having some spread effects in terms of providing income to a number of different beneficiaries. These benefits include (1) thatching grass collection and sale in East Caprivi (ca. 268 beneficiaries at last count), (2) the Lizauli Traditional Village (14 direct beneficiaries), (3) the bed-night levy in the vicinity of Mudumu National Park (five communities, with 746 households), and (4) craft purchases by Caprivi Arts and Crafts (CACA) and by tourists. While these enterprises are both useful and economically beneficial, it is important to note that three of the four enterprises were initiated by the proprietor of Lianshulu Lodge, and the continued involvement of this individual has been instrumental in the survival of these enterprises (Hitchcock and Murphree 1995).

The enterprises have provided the locus of dissension and debate within communities and between communities, the private sector, and development project personnel. This is a sign of progress. People are now debating natural resources values, their control and distribution with an awareness which was not present when the Government of Namibia and the U.S. Agency for International Development=s Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project began in the early 1990s. Dissension must, however, be contained by effective community organization structures, and a great deal of sensitive institutional facilitation, with emphasis on formalized contractual relations, is required.

The game guard program exhibits a slow evolution of success, with game guards having a generally positive community image in East Caprivi. The measured and patient approach of Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) is bearing success. The community resource monitors exhibited competence, commitment, and initiative. Their work shows a healthy linkage with the activities of the Community-based Organization (CBO) sub-grantee, the Caprivi Arts and Cultural Association (CACA), which is a user and marketer of community natural resources. There has been an increase in wildlife populations in most areas of East Caprivi, an indication that the community game guard efforts, local conservation initiatives, and work of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism are having positive impacts.

A drive from Kongola south along the Kwando to Sangwali reveals a number of tourism ventures at various stages of initiation and implementation. Their formal status varies, but in certain instances appears to be one sanctioned by private arrangements between chiefs, indunas, and private sector operators. This situation potentially is problematic for the long term interests of community-based natural resource management in the area. It could result in local communities losing opportunities to obtain true market values for river frontage land, which is by far the most valuable real estate in East Caprivi.

Another complicated issue in the western part of East Caprivi is the existence of on-going conflicts between the khutas of the Mafwe and the Mayeyi. These conflicts stem from the splitting off of the Mayeyi from the Mafwe in the early 1990s and the setting up of their own khuta. The Namibian government recognized the legitimacy of the Mayeyi khuta at Sangwali after its founding. The Mayeyi claim part of the southern portion of East Caprivi, and there have been disagreements over land and over who is responsible for resolving conflicts and carrying out development iniatives. These events have led to tensions between the Mafwe and the Mayeyi, especially in the area between the two national parks.

One way to deal with these potential pressures might be to work in collaboration with the traditional authorities of both khutas and to encourage them to establish a joint natural resource management committee made up of members of both the Linyanti and Sangwali khutas. This way, non-government organizations could work directly with the joint committee and not be in a position where they were viewed as being involved with individual khutas. Such a joint committee could also provide an important means of facilitating communication, coordination, and information flow. Greater emphasis on conflict resolution and negotiation over resource allocation and management would go a long way toward helping resolve some of the difficulties in East Caprivi.

In 1992, the Subiya Tribal Authority and a number of Tribal Councillors were invited by IRDNC to take part in a tour of sites where natural resource-related development activities showed promise, including Etosha, the Kaokoveld, Popa Falls, and the Waterberg. This visit served to increase awareness of the importance of community-based natural resource management and helped to establish a useful dialogue between the NGO and traditional authorities. It was decided by the Subiya subsequently that rules should be made concerning hunting, pole-cutting, and thatching grass extraction in the Salambala Forest area. It was noted in meetings that people both inside the forest and on the outskirts had to be consulted and needed to agree on plans for the area. Local communities and the sub-khuta and khuta authorities would have to work out agreements on the numbers of people who could move in to the conservancy and then would need to keep an eye on the situation in the area, letting immigrants know if they were welcome or not. Without some means of enforcing limits on the numbers of people, livestock, and other developments in the area, it is likely that a conservancy established there would not be viable over the long term.

 

14. Towards Integrated Conservation and Development of Land and Water Resources

One of the issues to be aware of is that Namibia may be investing fairly substantial resources in conservancy formation. It is possible that this could cause social difficulties since people who were in areas outside conservancies might feel that they are being slighted. Ultimately, there could be disagreements between the haves and the have-nots. In order to prevent this situation from occurring, efforts will have to be made to work closely with both conservancy and non-conservancy communities. The viability of a conservancy is dependent not only on its human, wildlife, habitat, and tourism potential, but also on the degree to which neighbouring people agree with and honour the rules of the conservancy. The Namibian government and its partners will need to pay careful attention to the needs, attitudes, and desires of people on the margins of conservancies as well as to other people who are in what might be considered low-potential zones.

The National Land Conference held in Windhoek in June-July 1991 laid out some of the major issues with respect to land and land reform. In the period since that time, efforts were made to develop a Commercial Agricultural Land Act, which was announced in September, 1994. A draft Communal Land Bill was also drafted in 1994-95 and was later agreed upon in the Namibian Parliament. A number of non-government organizations established an NGO Working Committee on Land Reform, and they held a "People's Land Conference" in Mariental on September 4-8, 1994 which produced a number of useful recommendations, some of which were later incorporated in the Communal Land Policy.

Several major issues face communal areas in terms of land and resource access for local people: (1) the potential of an expanded enclosure movement in which fencing is being established and allowing individuals to control blocks of arable and grazing land, (2) the scramble for tourism sites in which private operators are attempting to obtain land rights through applying for Permission to Occupy (PTOs) and through working out arrangements with local leaders and communities, as can be seen along river fronts in Caprivi, (3) continued emphasis on commercial rather than communal land; and (4) increased conflicts over access to land and water resources in communal areas.

The Communal Land Bill provides for the establishment of a Land Adjudication Commission. It also provides for the establishment of Regional Boards which will oversee land allocation. The Regional Boards proposed in Namibia are not unlike the Land Boards in Botswana which replaced traditional authorities (chiefs and headmen) in allocating land as a result of the Tribal Land Act of 1968. Experience has shown that while the Land Boards have served to resolve some of the inequity problems of traditional authorities' involvement in land allocation, they have not always been as effective as they might be in allocating land fairly or in providing just compensation. An additional problem is that land disputes are supposed to be resolved by the Land Boards, the same bodies that make the land allocations in the first place, thus creating a classic conflict of interest situation.

In Namibia, the Communal Land Bill provides for land rights under both customary law and common law to be allocated by Regional Boards. One of the problems is that land allocation for agricultural purposes is supposed to take precedence over allocation for other purposes (e.g. tourism, wildlife utilization). In this sense, the passage of the Communal Land Bill as written originally could have resulted in conflicts over land allocation for purposes of establishing conservancies under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism's Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Policy. This could mean, for example, that boreholes for livestock could be allocated in the midst of land designated for natural resource management purposes, and that agricultural projects are allowed to be established in areas that communities have set aside for conservation and wildlife-related development purposes.

Another major issue in the Communal Land Bill concerns the rights of individuals who have been granted a certificate of consent to occupy and use land by a Regional Board to apply for conversion of that land to leasehold tenure. This leasehold tenure, which is to be for 100 years, would, in effect, give de jure rights over land to the individual. Judging from similar experiences elsewhere, conversion to leasehold tenure without detailed population surveys, adjudication procedures, and close consultation with local people inevitably results in people with customary and de facto land rights being excluded from land. The establishment of the Tribal Grazing Land Policy (TGLP) in Botswana, for example, resulted in the extinguishing of land rights of substantial numbers of people, the vast majority of whom were poor (Hitchcock 1990; Peters 1994). Those people who were affected most turned out to be resident indigenous minority populations. Namibia can anticipate similar problems given the sizable numbers of people who fall into this category in various parts of the communal lands of the country.

Still another of the issues which was unclear in the Communal Land Bill is the relationship between Traditional Authorities (defined in the draft bill as the "Council," meaning the Council of Traditional Leaders as established in the Traditional Authorities Act) and existing traditional authorities. These Councils are supposed to provide advice to the President of Namibia on the control and utilization of communal land in accordance with Article 102 [5] of the Namibian Constitution. What this means, in essence, is that Traditional Authorities will continue to play a role in decision-making concerning land issues. This notion is reinforced in the section on alienation of communal land in the Land Bill, which states that the local authority within whose area the land in question is situated will be consulted.

Two other issues of concern in the Communal Land bill are (1) the section which holds that the Minister of Lands and Resettlement along with the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development (MAWRD) can designate land within communal areas for purposes of establishing a township, village, business center, or industrial area in terms of a "rural development plan" which they approve in consultation with a regional authority, and (2) the provision that states that any lessee in communal land cannot "enter into any partnership for the working of his or her holding without the prior written consent of the regional board." The first provision basically allows for the drawing up of a rural development plan independent of local authorities and communities and means that the Ministers can override local plans. The second provision essentially means that joint partnerships cannot be entered into (e.g. joint ventures between community-based organizations and private operators) without having applied to and received permission from the regional board. These provisions both mean that planning and implementation of CBNRM projects must involve both the regional board and the Ministries of Lands and Resettlement and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development. Such provisions could well complicate the process whereby conservancies are established and community-based projects initiated. They also could slow down the implementation process considerably given the need for wide-ranging coordination and permission-seeking.

The positive side of the situation is that the delays in full deployment of regional governmental plans have allowed time for local institutional strengthening and capacity-building to occur among a number of grassroots groups, some of whom have now applied for conservancy status. At least one conservancy has already been established -- in the Nyae Nyae region of Eastern Otjozondjupa, and it is anticipated that others will follow relatively quickly. Having a conservancy in place will allow local community to have greater control over their land, water, and other natural resources, and will provide local people with incentives to invest in entrepreneurial and resource management activities such as tourism promotion. If the Nyae Nyae case is any indication, having a conservancy in place facilitates the cooperative efforts of local communities and their members in establishing projects and activitities that could enhance self-reliance and increase incomes and standards of living.

 

15. Coping with Drought in the Kavango Basin

An enduring but in many ways unfortunate image of Africa is that of a malnourished child sitting in the sand at the edge of a refugee camp set in a bleak desert landscape. All too often, Africa is characterized as a kind of basket case, a continent beset by drought, famine, disease, and civil conflict. Less attention tends to be paid in the media to African success stories, to the diverse and ingenious strategies used by communities, families, and individuals to cope with uncertainty and reduce risk, and to the innovative programs employed by African governments and non-government organizations to predict, plan for, manage, and assess the impacts of changes in their socioeconomic and environmental situations.

From the perspective of their residents, southern African countries are subjected relatively frequently to problems posed by drought and long-term climatic variability. For purposes of this case study, drought will be defined as a deficiency of precipitation that results in water shortage for some activity (e.g. plant growth) or for some group (e.g. a farmer) (Wilhite and Glantz 1987:13). Drought can also be viewed as a rainfall-induced shortage of some economic good such as grazing for livestock that is brought about by inadequate or badly timed rainfall (Sandford 1979:34). Severe droughts, such as those of 1973-74 in the Sahel and 1982-85 in southern Africa, can result in great hardship for local people and the animals with which they interact. If systems are in place that ensure efficient and effective response to drought-related problems, as was the case, for example, in Botswana in the 1970s and 1980s, the effects can be mitigated.

The Sahel drought of the early 1970s brought the problems of the semiarid savanna zones of Africa and the status of pastoral nomad populations to international attention. There have been different interpretations of the causes of what some described as an environmental disaster. On the one hand, there were those who argued that a major factor in the drought was the behavior of local pastoral and agricultural peoples who kept to many animals on the range and used destructive cropping practices on land that was held as common property. On the other hand, there were those who suggested that it was the actions of outside aid agencies that played a significant role in the deteriorating environmental and social conditions in the Sahel. Still others maintained that it was a combination of climatic, social, economic, and political factors,

People in southern Africa are flexible, resilient, and innovative in their approaches to solving environmental problems and overcoming constraints. When a drought commences, human adaptive responses are set in motion. An almost universal response of African peoples is to diversify their strategies, exploiting a variety of different kinds of resources and taking advantage of economic opportunities. Another common response is to move, either away from places afflicted by drought, or to places where resources are available. The formation of social alliances and the use of buffering strategies such as food storage have also proved to be very useful in dealing with climatic uncertainty.

Droughts are frequent in the arid and semiarid parts of southern Africa and occur in two years out of five. Severe droughts can be expected in one out of every four to ten years (Sanford 1977). The serious droughts of the l982-87 and 1992-93 periods in southern Africa brought into sharp relief some of the problems facing local people. In some cases, people were unable to plow, and they were forced to find alternative means of producing food and generating income. Fairly sizable numbers of livestock died, thus reducing the chances of rural households for gaining cash through sales of cattle or small stock. Wild plant foods and game were also depleted seriously, thus reducing opportunities for people to use resources that often served as fallback goods in stress periods.

Natural resource management among southern African peoples is innovative, in part because of the wide-ranging and detailed environmental knowledge that people have. They monitor the environment carefully, looking for patterns and trends. Data are obtained on the state of the ecosystem, and information on the distribution, abundance, and types of resources were shared actively among community members. The generalized subsistence system of some groups (e.g. those who are foragers or agropastoralists) meant that they did not place too much pressure on a few plants and animals. As the amounts of specific desirable resources declined, people would shift to alternative resources

Not only did people map themselves on to resources through movement, but resources were mapped on to people through sharing and exchange systems. People were also mapped onto people through kinship and social alliances, including marriage and trade partnerships, and exchange relations. The landscape on which local people reside and earn their livelihoods is not simply undifferentiated space; rather, the land is divided into tracts which comprise the basic subsistence and residential areas of local groups. They have long-standing rights to these areas, and in many cases they have ideological connects to them as well.

Resource areas, which some social scientists have called "territories," contain a number of different kinds of resources, including (a) water points, (b) wild plant foods and medicines, 8 wild animals, (d) trees and shrubs for shelter, fuel, and building materials, and (e) materials such as termite earth and ochre used for construction and for adornment. Territories are named areas that have boundaries that people generally are familiar with. In order to enter another group=s territory, permission must be sought from the traditional land holders, usually those individuals who have resided there the longest. The rights to these territories are usually inherited from one=s parents, although there were cases in which people obtained customary rights to land through moving into an unclaimed area and establishing occupancy rights.

Resources in the territory were supposed to be shared among the members of the land-holding group. This sort of sharing has an information-spreading function as well as a risk-reduction one in areas of patchy rainfall. The sharing of resource areas associated with territories is organized along lines of kinship, historical association, and specific local resource availability. The territorial system and its understandings provided a flexible, yet generally agreed upon, method for adapting socially and numerically to a resource situation that was often relatively unpredictable.

One of the strategies for coping with drought and climatic uncertainty employed by local people was to request permission to move to another group=s territory which had sufficient resources to sustain a larger number of people. Usually people asked permission to visit the territories of people with whom they already had social ties, such as those created through marriage (affinal ties) or ones that came about through trade partnerships. In most instances, if the territory Aowners@ felt that there were enough resources available in their area, they gave permission for the other people to enter. There were cases, however, when permission was refused, especially in times of extreme drought. This was said to have been the case in Namibia and Botswana in 1933, for example, when a lengthy drought saw large areas affected, so much so, according to informants, that even the large trees along dried-out rivers were destroyed.

In times of drought the people of the Kavango Basin sometimes sought to prevent the over exploitation of specific species through the use of taboos. These taboos included restrictions about the kinds of species that one could collect or consume. There were limits placed on the use of certain species; some nut and fruit-bearing tree species such marula (Sclerocarya caffra), for example, were not supposed to be cut for firewood. Jural rules about resource use also varied according to age, gender, and, in some cases, individual personal characteristics. Some animal parts were reserved for elderly people. Certain species of medicinal plants were supposed to be used only by people defined as traditional healers. There are also specific items that were to be used exclusively by people who had the ability to go into trance and conduct healing ceremonies.

Another way that the southern African peoples buffered themselves against possible resource scarcity in drought periods was to store food. When game was killed, some of the meat was dried by cutting it into strips and hanging it in trees, turning the meat into what in North America is called jerky and in southern Africa is known as biltong. There were also cases in which sizable amounts of wild plant resources were obtained and kept in people=s houses or hung in bags in trees. In some cases, melons were cut the rinds into strips and dried them for later consumption.

Local people employed creative social strategies to deal with potential resource problems. One such strategy was to establish a fictive kinship bond through exchange systems. The social ties that were created by these exchanges were important because they facilitated the sharing of information about the state of the environment in various areas. They also helped establish a widespread network of fictive kin who had mutual rights and obligations. These people could then be contacted if a group or individual was under duress in the hopes that they might be able to accommodate them by providing a place to stay and food and water.

In order to cope with extreme drought conditions, people would scavenge the meat of dead animals that had died. One problem with this strategy was that the condition of the carcass was often such that the nutrient value was low. A second problem was that in some cases people could get diseases such as botulism from the carcasses of dead animals. Sometimes people collected the bones of dead animals and sold them to farmers who used them to feed their cattle or alternatively they sold them to bonemeal factories to raise income.

There were cases in extreme drought periods when people experimented with new kinds of plants, essentially diversifying their diets. It was at these points that people resorted to eating Acacia gum, tree bark, and roots with which they were not familiar. This could be a risky strategy since some of these plants had high levels of secondary compounds which were toxic, and the number of plant poisoning cases often rose during drought periods. In order to get around this problem, various methods were employed to process these plants, including soaking them for long periods in water.

A common strategy of Batswana is to move their herds or flocks to places where water and grazing are available. In some parts of Ngamiland, Caprivi, and southeastern Angola people would send their animals to other areas in the company of herdboys. Families would sometimes split up into production units, with women and young children staying at the homestead while the men went to the mines or to towns or remote grazing localities.

A social response of people to drought in Africa is the migration of people to other places in order to seek employment or to find relatives and friends upon whom they can depend for support. This strategy can work for a while, but the longer the drought lasts, the more difficult it becomes for the hosts. A problem with the migration option is that the numbers of jobs and resources tend to decline in drought periods, thus increasing the competition among individuals and groups.

An ingenious coping strategy of people in southern Africa is to engage in the long-term loan of domestic animals to other people, either kin or non-kin, who then manage those animals for them in exchange for the use of livestock products such as milk and dung. This livestock loan system, which is known as mafisa in Botswana and sisa in Swaziland, is sometimes structured in such a way that the people to whom the animals are loaned are given a young animal (e.g. a calf) at the end of the year in exchange for their labor. This social custom enabled livestock owners to distribute their animals among a number of different people in different places, thus reducing their risk.

Southern African farmers, especially women, engaged in a number of different kinds of resource management strategies, drawing on their extensive indigenous knowledge, in order to cope with uncertainty. They maintained seeds of a variety of different kinds of crops, selecting these carefully for specific characteristics such as drought- and pest-resistance, types of soils in which they grow, and taste. They staggered their planting so as to ensure that the crops got moisture during the highly variable rainy season. They also planted their crops in a number of different places, fragmenting their fields intentionally so as to maximize the chances that they would get at least some moisture so that they could obtain a minimum crop yield.

Farmers experimented with innovative farming and soil and water conservation techniques. They erected water-harvesting systems, built retaining walls, and plowed fields in the winter so as to increase the chances that moisture would percolate into the soil when the rains came in the summer. Farmers used a number of innovative methods for restoring soil fertility, including adding green mulch to the soil and composting. They attempted to monitor their fields more closely in growing periods, in part to prevent animals such as small antelopes and baboons (Papio ursinus) from getting into them. They sometimes place small traps (e.g. deadfalls, snares) at strategic points in the fences around the fields in the hopes that they could catch the animals that were raiding their crops at night.

Farmers attempted to control the degree to which crucial resources, such as stubble in the fields, were exploited. They limited the number of cattle that could come into the fields, or they restricted the timing of their use of the stubble, which they realized was a highly nutritious feed source. A coping strategy of many people in Africa is labor intensification, where people expand their work effort. One way that they did this was to spend more time in the fields. They also brought in additional laborers such as children to assist in agricultural, domestic, and off-farm activities. It was not unusual in drought periods to see very young children watching over the fields or herding animals and collecting water, firewood, and crop residues to feed livestock.

In order to buffer themselves against nutritional deficiencies in drought periods, African farmers collected wild plants, some of which they kept for home consumption and others of which they sold. Some farmers also collected wild insects and occasionally caught small wild animals, something that they did more frequently in drought periods.

It is interesting to note that there may be a differential response of females as opposed to males to drought problems. In many parts of Africa it is women who are involved extensively in agricultural work, whereas men tend to do more of the herding of livestock. As a result, when a drought occurs, women tend to lose agricultural employment opportunities more readily than men. Women also tend to have fewer options in terms of going to town to seek employment because of their domestic responsibilities. In order to cope with this situation, women engage in such activities as making and selling crafts and doing domestic work for other people.

 

16. Drought Relief Strategies

African populations have gotten around drought problems by depending on their governments or aid agencies for support while pursuing their traditional socioeconomic activities as much as they can given prevailing environmental and social conditions. Drought relief programs that were implemented in southern Africa saved the lives of many people. At the same time, they contributed to what some analysts have described as a "dependency syndrome, in which people gave up their regular activities and became reliant on handouts. In order to get around this problem, governments and international relief agencies established labor-based rural development projects (LBRDPs) in which local people are given cash for work such as removing brush and stumps from agricultural fields or clearing trees and shrubs in order to make roads.

The drought relief programs mounted by the Botswana Government and international agencies have been judged as relatively successful in averting the disastrous consequences that affected other African countries. Efforts were made not only to provide food for people but also to assist them through replacement of lost income. A special direct feeding program was established in which health centers were given money, and then food was purchased locally from farmers or from cooperatives comprised of fishermen or herders. This strategy not only encouraged production but also injected more income into the rural areas. Drought relief funds were used to build teachers= quarters and other facilities through Village Development committees (VDCs); thus, the village had a longer term stake in maintaining public works.

In 1984/85 a major remote area drought relief program was established in Botswana in order to provide food and work for populations in remote parts of the country under stress. It should be noted that the western districts of Botswana, those with higher than average numbers of remote area dwellers, are the ones with higher levels of people who are nutritionally at risk. The selection criteria for those special remote area programs involved determining those people who were beyond the reach of health facilities. By mid-1985 there were 20-21,000 remote area dwellers being fed. The food basket consisted of three basic commodities: (1) maize meal (12.5 kg per person per month), (2) beans (3.5 kg per person per month), and (3) vegetable oil (1 kg per person per month). This commodity basket was higher than that provided to nutritionally affected populations such as the vulnerable groups (under-fives, pregnant and lactating mothers) who were fed through the Institutional Feeding Program (IFP) at schools and health posts in Botswana.

One of the more popular drought relief efforts in Botswana people involved the destumping of agricultural fields. There was also a labor based relief program that served l70,000 people in rural Botswana, in which people were paid P2 (then about US $1) per day to do such tasks as clearing roads and constructing storehouses and other facilities. Assistance was also provided in plowing of fields. Tractors were made available by the Ministry of Agriculture to help people plow since in many cases their cattle were not in good enough condition to do the plowing, and their labor was divided because people were in towns seeking employment or at cattle posts taking care of cattle.

Yet another strategy for assisting people was Labor-Based Relief and Development Programs or cash-for-work programs. These were implemented in a number of places in Botswana, and they helped provide income to local people. They included road construction, stamping of grain (processing of sorghum, for example), and cooking at local schools.

Many southern Africans today maintain that it is in the best interests of their governments and international aid agencies to reinforce rather than undercut the coping strategies of local people and at the same time to see to it that sustainable development strategies are implemented and entitlements ensured. One way to do this is to follow the model of Namibia, which sought to allow individuals and communities the right to manage wildlife. Legislation promulgated in 1967 gave private land holders rights of ownership over a number of different species of game. The gaining of proprietary rights over the wildlife gave commercial farmers the incentive to utilize and manage it on a sustainable basis. Wildlife numbers increased substantially on commercial farms, and by 1991 the private game industry generated in excess of N$30 million annually. As of 1996, local communities got the right to manage their own resources in conservancies as long as they registered officially with the government and established a conservancy council and a land use and development plan.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism=s CBNRM policy, the members of each conservancy will have the right to utilize resources within its boundaries for the benefit of the community. They will also have the right to enter into business arrangements with private companies or individuals and to control and derive benefits from tourism and other resource use activities. The conservancy council will be responsible for the management of income and expenditures. At the regional level, wildlife management committees will be established, with members being appointed by the various conservancy councils, MET and Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development representatives, and representatives of agencies working with the conservancies. These committees will oversee quota setting, ensure the activities of the conservancies are consistent with regional and national resource policies, and provide technical assistance and advice. Ultimately, the conservancy system is a partnership venture between the government and rural people on communal land in Namibia.

17. Conclusions

Experience has demonstrated that there are a number of conditions which must exist if sustainable development is to be achieved at the local level in the Kavango Basin and in southern Africa generally:

(1) Communities must have control over the means or production, especially land and capital;

(2) Local institutions should be self-governing and members should have a significant voice in resource management;

(3) Communities must have decision-making power and authority to undertake projects that they deem necessary;

(4) Projects must be of sufficient small scale to be managed at the level of the community or on a multi-community level;

(5) Capital inputs must be such that they do not overwhelm the capacity of the local institutions to cope with them;

(6) The management and administration of the projects should not be overly complex organizationally;

(7) Local institutions should pursue activities that are beneficial to as wide a number of people as possible and that are equitable in terms of distribution of power and resources;

(8) Project identification, design, and implementation must be done in such a way that dialogue between local people and development agencies is on-going, and the discussions should have effects on the directions the projects take;

(9) Fair, just, and socially acceptable mechanisms for conflict resolution must be available;

(10) The institutions involved in resource management must be willing to impose sanctions if individuals and communities fail to comply with the rules, and

(11) There should be means of ensuring that the environment is not overtaxed by the development activities;

(12) Natural resource management and governance regimes must take account of diverse and legitimate interests;

 

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