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