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Francistown to get a Mining Museum

Francistown will have a Geology and Mining Museum in Gerald Estate by 2021, the Deputy Director of the Department of National Museum and Monuments (DNMM), Steven Bogotsi has revealed in Selebi Phikwe last week when address council.

The museum is one of the Department’s NDP 11 Projects under the Museum and Heritage Development Programme. The museum will be a specialised one showcasing geology and early mining in Francistown area. Mogosi explained the museum will be a first of its kind in Botswana and will be declared a national monument.

The museum will be called Gerald Estate National Monument (GENM).He said GENM is significant for its unique columnar joints discovered during Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC)’s housing construction in the area, further explaining that the columnar joints are “a rare dolerite geological feature formed 180 million years ago.”

“The outcrop needs to be protected for appreciation and research. The Museum will present and exhibit other rocks, minerals, fossils and other geological material in Botswana for research, public education and appreciation,” he said.
The museum will definitely be a welcome development for residents of Gerald Estates who are reportedly to have been angry at Government for not consulting them when the columnar joints were taken from their area to be erected at Francistown International Airport and Tropic of Capricorn.

The implementation schedule indicate that the museum is currently at design stage which construction expected to commence in 2019/20 while exhibition is expected to start in 2020/21. Mogotsi said P230 million has been allocated for the Heritage Development in NDP11 which also include the Ivory Museum in Gaborone, 20 District Monuments which were approved by cabinet in October 2017, refurbishment of permanent exhibition at DNMM Head Quarters in Gaborone, and refurbishment of exhibitions at Community Museums.

The Ivory Museum will also be a specialised Museum within the Natural History Centre, the Botanical Garden in Village. The objective of the project is to preserve Botswana’s bio-diversity and showcase the story of African Elephant, Mogotsi has said. The proposed developments include a reception area, exhibition halls, offices, laboratories, boardroom room, store rooms and a library. The project will be done in two phases with Phase one entailing the undertaking of a management plan, pre-development studies and Architectural designs for the project. The second phase will entail construction and completion of the project.

The 20 heritage sites which will be developed in NDP11, Mogotsi said they will grow the economy and diversify the tourism product. Development will include access roads, electricity, and water connectivity while basic infrastructure will include interpretation centres, exhibitions, offices, ablutions, campsites, staff accommodation, furniture and vehicles. The Deputy Director noted that the Development of heritage trails will also provide linkages of heritage sites with other facilities of interest.

“There are over 2,500 recorded heritage sites access was developed at only 100 heritage sites through Ipelegeng in NDP10, five gatehouses at Tsodilo, Mogonye, Gcwihaba, Domboshaba and Kolobeng. Access roads, ablutions and campsites were developed at over 100 Sites and 70 custodians at some of the sites,” revealed Mogotsi.

Refurbishment of Permanent Exhibition at Head Quarters project entails refurbishing of the permanent exhibition.  Mogotsi revealed that a consultant will be engaged in September 2018 to start work on storyline and designs for the exhibition. A new interactive multimedia exhibition to appeal to wider audience will also be introduced as part of the project.

“The scope includes architectural modification of the exterior space and once complete the National Museum will attract more tourists and general public especially school children,” said Mogotsi. The Refurbishment of Exhibitions at Community Museums project will assess heritage collections and improve exhibitions at seven Community Museums namely Bathoen II Museum, Kgari Sechele II Museum, Phuthadikobo Museum, Khama III Museum, Supa Ngwao, Nhabe and Kuru Museums.

The project also entails conducting a study to improve collection management and determine appropriate facilities for exhibitions, refurbishing of exhibition facilities and building of new gallery spaces for museums which may require additional exhibition space. He revealed also that his Department is conducting consultations to identify stakeholders or individuals who are affected or likely to be affected by the projects and who may have an interest in these projects such District Councils, Local Authorities, the Private Sector and communities.

“We are conducting meetings with stakeholders to inform them about the DNMM projects as well as obtaining input from stakeholders for ownership,” he said. Mogotsi stated that DNMM will engage a consultancy to conduct feasibility studies to assess the practicality of each project, determine products and services, establish economic and social benefits, identify linkages, and outline activities to ensure project results as well as assessing the sustainability of the proposed projects.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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