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Maun water crisis deepens as Thamalakane River dries

Maun: Botswana’s tourism capital’s water supply is under threat, as water levels at the Thamalakane River continue to recede. The river’s low level has affected the water supply in Maun which currently relies primarily on a water treatment plant that draws water directly from the river.

A sub District Drought Management Committee Report prepared by the Department of Water Affairs on the 26th of January this year indicates that generally, in all Okavango river systems the water levels and flow have dropped drastically such as Boro River at Xakue, Boro River at Pantoon Site, Thamalakane River at the Maun Bridge, Boteti river at Samedupi to name but a few. The report further states that the Okavango delta water level are at their lowest mainly due to the prevailing high temperatures (heat wave) resulting in high and unusual evaporation rates.  

The report further reveals that in the third quarter of 2015/16, the water levels and flows were very low as compared to 2014/15 third quarter. The report also concluded that the hydrological conditions are anticipated as the entire river systems have very low water levels and most rivers have stopped flowing such as Thamalakane, Kunyere and Boro rivers.

The Sub Council Chairman of North West District Council Gaokgakala Letswee briefed the council this week that Thamalakane River water levels have receded to such critical levels that the pools feeding the Borolong Surface Water Treatment failed and therefore a decision was taken to close the plant on the 9th of February 2016. He also added that they have limited storage in Maun which ideally should be able to cater for twice the village‘s daily demand, which in turn caters even for emergency situations when the plant or boreholes are not operating.

Letswee also noted that the WUC have been mitigating the acute water shortage by rationalizing the water supply and priorities and where possible the priority was given to the hospital and clinics. He also indicated that present water deficits despite rationing are mostly felt at areas supplied from Boseja and Matshwane tanks.

Another intervention that the corporation had was to bring to Maun, a drilling for the purpose of cleaning, re-deploying and test pumping previously connected but later flooded boreholes. The exercise was to happen towards the end of last Month, 26th January 2016 but was postponed to a later date when the boreholes would be drier.

“Although the corporation was aware of the dwindling water levels, prior rehabilitation of the boreholes had been limited by the wetness which would have made access of the boreholes by the heavy drilling rig problematic,” he said, adding that the corporation however intends optimizing the process to ensure all the boreholes which take 3-5 days each are cleaned, redeployed and pump tested by the beginning of April.

Letswee said the corporation’s intention is to equip most if not all boreholes with completely new equipment and connect the supply into the village scheme in the shortest time possible. He also noted that the corporation feels that checking of water quality of long abandoned boreholes is critical before they convey their water into their water networks hence they cannot assure people that all boreholes will be suitable for immediate use.

Recently the corporation publicly informed the community that the town will start to experience some water shortage. However since last week the Maun community has been experiencing water shortage and this has badly affected many businesses such as hotels and lodges as well as restaurants.

Ecologically, the catastrophe has not only affected human beings as it has far reaching effects on livestock, wild animals, birds and plants that rely on those water sources.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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