Funded by European Commission (EC), the project component in Botswana seeks to reduce poverty by ensuring that key dryland ecosystem services are restored and sustainably managed. It places the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of ecosystem services, as the basis for improved livelihoods. These will be achieved through more secure rights, better natural resources management, and enhanced income generation opportunities.

The project targets local and rural dryland communities, local authorities; Community based organizations and non‐governmental organizations. Upon its completion the projects hopes to see that:

  • Dry landscapes sustainably and equitably managed, including the restoration of degraded areas, based on strengthened institutional arrangements.
  • Security of access rights to private and common pool ecosystem services strengthened, with special attention to those important to women and vulnerable groups.
  • Economic and income generating options for rural communities explored and supported based on natural resource commodities and on valuations of ecosystem services.
  • Policies informed and influenced at local, national, regional, and global levels.

Project Summary and Overview

The Securing Rights and Restoring Lands for Improved Livelihoods Project - Botswana is managed by the South African IUCN team in collaboration with the Botswana Government's Department of Forest and Rangeland Resources (DFRR). The project is co-financed by the UNEP-GEF Kalahari-Namib Project (executed by IUCN) which has also been working at the same sites.

One of the main overarching problems associated with the BORAVAST communities is the spread of the exotic invasive plant Prosopis, introduced to the community as a means to stabilise sand-dunes. The communities have strongly advocated against Prosopis and its spread. The issue was taken to the attention of the President of Botswana who has urged the DFRR to find a solution to the problem. The Kalahari is an area already with a scarce water supply now further exacerbated by the Prosopis invasion. The spreading plants are extracting ground water, lowering the water table, creating an increase in ground water salinity and compromising local wellbeing and livelihoods.

Mismanagement of livestock has led to losses in livelihoods while inappropriate rangeland management has led to bush encroachment of pasture and habitat degradation, as identified in the Community Environmental Management Plans. The current land tenure arrangements allow further degradation of the rangelands through over-grazing by large animal herds owned by wealthy individuals. 

Alternative livelihood options are limited and livestock rearing is the principle industry. Efforts have been made to strengthen this sector through breed improvement, for example with Dorper sheep, but this has not been done in conjunction with rangelands management planning.

Governance in a broad sense emerges as a critical factor in sustainable management of local resources. Degraded resources can only be sustainably restored if users are able to impose and enforce rules and regulations over their use. Since much of the land is communally managed this requires strong institutions, and it also requires commitment from both community and local government to establish plans and rules that will be upheld. The participatory approach used in this project and the focus on building the relationship between communities and government is coherent with a long term strategy of establishing more effective, locally-adapted governance that is acceptable to local customs as well as national policy.