The tourism sector is an alternative to drive economic growth as well as diversification, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mr Felix Monggae has said.
Speaking at the graduation of 57 youth from 13 villages under the northern Botswana Human Wildlife Co-Existence Project recently, Mr Monggae said the tenth National Development Plan (NDP 10) highlighted the potential of the tourism sector.
He noted that conservation and nature based tourism contributed to the remote areas as an alternative income generation thus improving livelihoods.
“Tourism and natural resource management are the key sectors to assist in economic diversification, rural development and poverty alleviation,” he said.
He also said the wildlife policy realised the importance to assist poor rural communities through enhanced natural resource management practices to advance rural development through sustainable use of wildlife resources at community level.
The 2007 Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) policy, he said, supported the same principle for local communities to benefit from wildlife, natural resources and tourism.
Furthermore, Mr Monggae noted that the increase of wildlife species such as elephants led to heightened human wildlife conflicts in affected communities.
However, he pointed out that human wildlife conflict was a hindrance to wildlife conservation efforts since it affected subsistence farmers and rural dwellers’ livelihoods hence the introduction of the northern Botswana Human Wildlife Co-Existence Project in efforts to minimise conflicts and promote conservation.
He added that the project, funded by the World Bank at the tune of US$ 5.5 million (about P50m), and implemented by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) promoted new approaches aimed at improving co-existence between humans and wildlife.
Mr Monggae noted that the northern Botswana Human Wildlife Co-Existence project also offered local communities an opportunity in wildlife-related courses for them to be employable and benefit directly from wildlife.
The DWNP director, Mr Charles Mojalemotho said the graduation was the second under the project while the last group was still on training.
Mr Mojalemotho said the purpose of the co-existence project was to realise the importance of wildlife for the betterment of local communities hence the graduation in tourism related courses.
“Taking youth in those communities to school has been the most rewarding of them all,” he said.
He said the project was inevitable since wildlife species increased whereas the country remained the same.
Furthermore, he said the project also aimed to educate communities on tourism management, methods such as chilli pepper to scare elephants from farms, use of guard dogs for small stock and the cultivation of early maturing seeds for farmers to benefit from their fields.