Duba Reserve & it's Communities
Botswana has been an innovator in the application of concepts of Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). CBNRM is the idea that conservation advances rural development by promoting the management of natural resources by local communities. The fundamental assumption of CBNRM is that poverty exacerbates environmental degradation due to unsustainable practices. If the benefits of conservation (i.e. sustainable use or non-use of natural resources) outweigh its costs, a community is more likely to use sustainable livelihood strategies.
Duba Reserve is a prime example of this approach; where communities are integral partners in a joint venture agreement. The essence of the joint venture agreement is that the community supplies strictly the land, and the joint venture partner leases the land from the community and supplies capital investment and operating expertise. Further, direct benefits to the community come from employment, lease fees, development projects and/or hunting quota replacement fees. Longer term, joint venture agreements can leverage community capacity by exposing communities to the tourism business, natural resource management and asset formation.
In the case of Duba, Great Plains is partnered with the Okavango Community Trust, which represents the communities of Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa in the Okavango ‘panhandle’.
The CBNRM approach to environmental management has been endorsed by the Government of Botswana since 2004, and was formalised in the CBNRM Policy presented to Parliament in July 2007. Today, lessons learned from Botswana’s CBNRM models are being implemented in areas of extreme conservation and community pressure (e.g. Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya and Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania – two areas where Great Plains Conservation is intimately involved as well).
Tourism’s value to the country of Botswana, is not to be underestimated – it contributes about 9.5 per cent to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and constitutes the country’s second largest economic sector after mining. Wildlife-based tourism accounts for approximately half of the total. In Northern Botswana, where the country’s ecotourism resources are concentrated, 40 per cent of employment opportunities are attributable to tourism.
Botswana’s tourism strategy, especially regarding the wildlife management areas like Duba, has set out to expand ecotourism through a low-volume/high-cost approach designed to ensure a very exclusive experience. This approach was adopted when it was realised that the 20 per cent of tourists who favoured permanent (as opposed to self-guided camping) accommodation accounted for over 80 per cent of total tourist expenditure.
*The information provided here is extracted from an article by Caitlin Lepper & Jessica Schroenn Goebel, with permission.