Bushmen win rights to water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 27 January 2011

Related arcticle (July 2010): Bushmen denied water

In a momentous decision, Botswana’s Court of Appeal today quashed a ruling that denied the Kalahari Bushmen access to water on their ancestral lands.

Appeal Court judges found the government’s conduct towards Bushmen amounted to ‘degrading treatment’.

With support from Survival, the Bushmen appealed a 2010 High Court judgment that prevented them from accessing a well which they rely on for water. The panel of five Appeal Court judges has found that:

  • the Bushmen have the right to use their old borehole, which the government had banned them from using
  • the Bushmen have the right to sink new boreholes
  • the government’s conduct towards the Bushmen amounted to ‘degrading treatment’.
  • the government must pay the Bushmen’s costs in bringing the appeal.

Celebrating after the decision, a Bushman spokesman said, ‘We are very happy that our rights have finally been recognized. We have been waiting a long time for this. Like any human beings, we need water to live. We also need our land. We pray that the government will now treat us with the respect we deserve.’

In 2002, the Bushmen were forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by the Botswana government. They took the government to court and after four years, won a landmark ruling that said they had been evicted illegally and unconstitutionally, and that they have the right to live on their ancestral lands. Continue reading

Bushmen denied water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 July 2010

Authorities in Botswana are preventing Kalahari Bushmen from bringing water to their relatives in one of the driest places on earth.

The move suggests the government is stepping up its long-running campaign to force the Bushmen out of their ancestral homeland and into government resettlement camps.

Wildlife scouts have told Bushmen attempting to bring water into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) for their hard- pressed relatives that they cannot use donkeys to carry the water since these are no longer permitted.

Without access to vehicles, Bushmen wanting to support friends and families inside the reserve rely heavily on donkeys to transport water to them. Despite a High Court ruling that says the Bushmen have the right to live on their ancestral lands inside the reserve, the Botswana government has banned residents from accessing a borehole on their lands. In the dry season this makes them dependent on water from outside the reserve, which is extremely difficult to carry without donkeys.

Last month, the Bushmen went to court in a bid to gain access to their borehole. However, the Bushmen are still waiting for the judge to give his ruling; this is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday, July 21.

Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, says: ‘When they realise what’s going on, ethical tourists won’t want to go to areas where they have rights explicitly denied to the indigenous peoples. Botswana says it wants more tourists, yet its actions couldn’t be better designed to put them off.”

Source: Times Live

Aquatic alien invades Okavango Delta

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems 30 December 2009

The ‘salvinia molesta’ – also known as the Kariba weed, is a freshwater weed of South American origin that has, over the last 25 years, invaded the Okavango delta.

Lily in Okavango Delta. Photo by geoftheref under Creative Commons Licence 2.0

The weed floats on slow moving waters and can rapidly cover the water’s surface forming a dense mat of vegetation. The result is a strangulation of air movement causing severe environmental damage, and threatens not only fish and other marine species but also has a direct economic impact on the local communities.

With the assistance of the local communities the alien invader is fought back through initiatives administered by the Botswana Dept of Water Affairs and the Biokavango Project. Part of these initiatives includes the introduction of small weevils, with an average life-span of 60 days, which feed on the weed reducing its infestation.

Source: Botswana Press Agency (BOPA)
See full article: http://www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20091229&i=Salvinia_molesta_threat_to_wetlands