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Saving Grace for African Wildlife

The 19th African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) is underway in Kasane to exchange lessons learnt, successes, failures, and most importantly, best practices so that members of the AWCF can effectively and efficiently manage their African wildlife the benefit of their communities.

This week has seen government officials stepping up and being in sync on wildlife issues after what has seemed like radio silence on the subject. On the same day, while President Masisi was delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA), Minister of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Philda Kereng, on the one hand, was halfway across the country addressing the AWCF.

When addressing the AWCF attendees, Kereng highlighted that “my country’s development agenda is guided by, among others, a long-term national vision termed “Vision 2036″. This Vision outlines the aspirations of the citizenry, having been developed through a bottom-up process. Relevant to the AWCF is the Vision 2036 pillar, which supports sustainable management of natural resources and healthy ecosystems to promote biological diversity, resilience to climate change, economic transformation, and empowerment of local communities. This demonstrates Botswana’s commitment to natural resources conservation, including wildlife. Wildlife and the wildlife economy remain strong components of the strategy to uplift Botswana’s rural communities’ livelihoods economically.”

Kereng added that “the National Anti-Poaching Strategy is expected to be finalized before 30 November 2021, to guide law enforcement interventions for the period 2021 to 2026.” This comes as a silver lining after the former President Lieutenant General Ian Khama took to social media concerning Botswana’s wildlife, saying: “the last three years has seen this ceaseless slaughter of Rhinos due to absolutely no effective interventions. Therefore, with no end in sight to this massacre, the extinction of rhinos in the Okavango is imminent. That will be the price our tourism and such iconic wildlife species will pay for indifference and with more to follow.”

When delivering the SONA, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi acknowledged that poaching is indeed a crisis stating that; “Mister Speaker, poaching remains one of the biggest threats to our biodiversity. Since April 2019, a total of one hundred (100) animals comprising different species such as; elephants, rhinos and various antelopes were poached, compared to one hundred and fifty-one (151) in 2018.”

The President continued, “another challenge is the issue of human-wildlife conflict. Our mitigation efforts include providing water to elephants and other wildlife to reduce their movements into communal areas, particularly in Nata/Gweta and North East areas. The government is also equipping new boreholes and constructing water holes in the Ngwasha area.”

On the other hand, Kereng, to enunciate on the management of elephants, revealed that; “the National Elephant Management Plan launched in April 2021 and already being implemented. An annual work plan which ends in March 2022 has been developed, covering: law enforcement capacitation; mitigation of human-elephant conflict including at least 100 km of elephant-proof fences; review of Conservation Trust Fund to increase the funding streams; and reforms to the management of the Special Elephant Quota to increase benefits derived from the elephant off-take.”

A 60-kilometre non-lethal electric fence along the western Makgadikgadi National Park boundary is also in the works and will be officially commissioned before the end of this year. The fence will reduce incidences of human-wildlife conflict in the Boteti area. Another non-lethal forty kilometres (40 km) electric fence is being constructed near Mathathane and Tsetsebjwe villages.

The AWCF was formed by a dedicated corps of African Wildlife Government officials. Religiously holding annual rotational meetings in Southern and East African countries. The AWCF was conceived in 2002 in Kasane.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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