Botswana News

FAO, UNDP join hands to improve Community Based Natural Resources Management legislation in Botswana

After close to three decades of unfruitful attempts to have a Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) legislation and practitioners’ manual for Botswana, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has joined forces with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the Botswana government with drafting a CBNRM Bill and CBNRM practitioners manual.

The move comes at a point where poor governance, mal-administration and embezzlement of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) funds are rife in the country and communities are not benefiting from natural resources in their proximity as much as they should. This has prompted reconsideration of existing legal frameworks with the hope of having robust institutions dedicated to dealing with CBNRM issues.

Consultations of relevant stakeholders across the country were held and a common ground was attained as more stakeholders believe the development of a CBNRM legislation has long been overdue and the current manual needs reviewing to be consistent with the draft Bill. The CBNRM practitioner’s manual will serve as a guide on how to run daily activities of CBOs as well as provide guidance on how to set up a CBO, whilst the CBNRM legislation assures every mischievous act has repercussions.

The practitioner’s manual, which is spearheaded by UNDP will also provide a detailed step by step guide on the process of setting up CBNRM business enterprises and how to sustainably run the business in a way that communities will also benefit from the natural resources.  It further provides a guide on the different stakeholders and their role in CBNRM projects implementation. This includes the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), Non-Governmental Organizations, private tourism sector and law enforcement agencies.

“The legislation will provide guidance on how CBOs can establish business arrangements and how to terminate business arrangements if they are not fruitful, it will also look at benefit sharing between government and the CBOs. This will ensure that there is rural development and communities benefit from the natural resources around them,” said FAO Legal Consultant Dr Emma Chitsove.

The General Manager at Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust (OKMCT) Seikaneng Moepedi welcomed the development noting that the legislation has long been overdue hence the need to finalise and implement it soon. He added that the stakeholder engagements have been an eye opener as they were not aware of other avenues they could explore as a Trust.

“The new legislation will give Trusts the power to control pricing of wildlife during the hunting season, pricing of photographing rights in their concessions. It will also prevent embezzlement of funds by CBO managers and give the community a fair chance of benefitting from their natural resources. We hope the legislation could be put in place soon because we want to take control of the resources in our areas and assist our communities,” said Moepedi.

The draft CBNRM Bill will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (MENT) for review and onward submission to Attorney General’s Chambers before being passed on to parliament for enactment. It is expected that the CBNRM legislation and practitioners’ manual will eventually lead to a robust CBNRM programme for Botswana.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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