Communities living along Metsimotlhabe River in Botswana are excited with a climate-resilient Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) project that seeks to strengthen their resolve against effects of climate change and improve their livelihoods.

Farmers along the river have raised concern of declining yields due to illegal sand mining and on the other hand communities complain of declining water quality due to pesticides and herbicides applied by farmers along the river. There are also socio-economic dynamics issues relating to the use of riverine resources and ownership of farms around the catchment area.

The European Union (EU)-funded project, which is being implemented under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat and the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme, seeks to address these challenges and ensure that various groups along the river benefit from the use of the river. Global Water Partnership Southern Africa is implementing the project on behalf of SADC.

During an engagement with communities around Metsimotlhabe River on 16th September 2022, representatives of women, youths, men and vulnerable groups expressed optimism that the project would resolve some of the challenges that they face.

Metsimotlhabe Chief Kgosi Raphael Mmipi welcomed the proposed pilot study and was optimistic that it would give the village hope of mitigating climate change effects.

“The river integrity has been degraded over the years., dating back to the 1980s. The river used to be home to a number of plants and animals, and these are not there anymore. We also used to have hand dug wells to water our livestock and this is no longer possible as the river does not have sand and the river’s aesthetic value has decreased,” said Chief Mmipi.

Mr Innocent Moamogwe, the men’s group representative, lamented issues of illegal/unsustainable sand mining activities that have degraded the Metsimotlhabe riverbed.

“We need stringent measures against illegal miners and establishment of a Catchment Management Committee to monitor and protect the Metsimotlhabe River,” said Mr Moamogwe.

The women’s group representative, Ms.Tankanyane Chibitswane, said that indiscriminate dumping of sewage waste in the river has caused pollution and suggested that greywater re-use be adopted at household level for back-yard horticultural activities.

On their part, the youth represented by Taboka Makhiwa, reiterated that the lack of education and skills on climate smart agriculture saw many youths uninterested in agricultural activities. He mentioned that training, skills development, formation of youth clubs and incentives will go a long way in youth active participation.

“Interventions such as the use of renewable energy sources such as solar powered boreholes and the use of water efficient mechanism through drip irrigation could see many youths getting involved in climate resilient IWRM in the Metsimotlhabe Village.”

The meeting discussed climate smart agriculture such as crop rotation and animal manure application; rainwater harvesting and solar powered boreholes as some of the solutions that the communities can implement to protect the river and the banks.

The Botswana Water Partnership Programme Coordinator Ms. Laura Danga emphasised the need for a participatory approach to identifying challenges and solutions for climate resilient IWRM interventions by engaging all stakeholder representatives of the men, women, youth and vulnerable groups in the Metsimotlhabe Village.

“Your continued and unwavering participation; especially from women and youth groups, will bring about concerted efforts in building climate resilient IWRM and ownership to the pilot project that will improve livelihoods in the Metsimotlhabe Village,” said Ms Danga.

Ms. Saniso Sakuringwa from the Department of Water and Sanitation suggested that when the Metsimotlhabe Pilot Study successfully takes off, other villages in Botswana can learn from this project.

The project is part of the European Union-funded Intra African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+),a programme which aims to increase the capabilities of SADC Member States and countries in the ACP region to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and have their voices better heard in international climate change negotiations.