For the communities of Tsutsubega and Gogomoga, situated alongside a far distant section of the veterinary fence separating the urban surrounds of Maun from the Okavango Delta, water is as precious as gold.
Their livelihood depends on the agriculture and livestock, but they have had no access to a stable source of water. From November to March, during the Delta’s dry season when many of the water channels dry up, these communities have been restricted to muddy pools of dirty water that they’ve been forced to share with wildlife.
In August 2018, before the shadow of COVID-19 fell, engagement with these isolated communities was initiated in collaboration with Africa Foundation. In line with the Foundation’s methodology of working WITH rather than FOR communities, a number of consultative meetings were held in which the community identified their priority issues, with access to safe water as the most crucial.
Many learnings over the last 28 years have shaped Africa Foundation’s approach to community projects: linking in all stakeholders has proven to be a key factor to ensuring a sustainable solution to all initiatives. In this case, the Maun Administration Authority Council was actively involved in the discussions around the proposed boreholes -understandably, ground water levels need to be carefully managed and licensed by authorities.
This project came to fruition in June when the first of the boreholes was drilled for the Gogomoga Community, with the borehole for the Tsutsubega following a week later. The water quality was tested and confirmed good for human consumption. Not only do the communities now have a stable source of water, but their COVID-19 defences have strengthened significantly.
It is always wonderful to report back on a successful initiative, knowing the transformational impact it will have on the lives of each and every community member, but there’s another far reaching aspect to a project like this: it reaffirms that with conservation, come meaningful benefits that will build resilience and empower the community.