When Peter Sibanda, Director of Engineering for Bulawayo City Council, says his only interest is “purely to get water,” you take him at face value. From his seventh floor municipal office, the thunder clouds can be seen rolling towards the city of 1 million people.
“The community understands one hundred per cent that the benefits are coming from the wildlife,” says Kgosi Gokgathang Timex Moalosi, Chief of Sankuyo Village, a small community of 700 hundred people on the eastern shores of the Okavango Delta.
With his sleeves rolled up and his tie loosened, Stevie Monna, Director for Botswana’s Department of Environmental Affairs, exudes the personality of a man of action. This, by all accounts, is a good thing, as Monna and his colleagues are responsible for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Okavango Delta, one of the great environmental wonders of the world.
The primary objective of the Okavango Delta Management Plan – known throughout Botswana as the ODMP – is to balance the often conflicting needs of a multitude of stakeholders in the Delta. Considering the different levels of scale and stages of stakeholder development, this is an ambitious mandate by anyone’s standard.
The legacy of the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP), the overriding planning process for the sustainable utilisation of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, might very well be founded on its differentiation between perception and reality. Evaluating the economic worth of the Delta’s natural resources and environmental services is proof of this principle.
At the heart of the planning phase of the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) was an integrated drive around community consultation and partnership. It was a process that took three years and numerous kgotlas (community meetings called by local chiefs and elders).
The fact that social issues such as HIV and AIDS, gender and poverty were only incorporated into the activities of Botswana’s Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) two years after the plan’s inception is something that aggrieves rural sociologist Ramogaupi “Ramjii” Gaborekwe.