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North-West communities pilot climate smart projects

BONIFACE KEAKABETSE
MAUN: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and government-funded projects in the North West region are piloting green technologies for uptake by the communities.

The projects, known as Sustainable Land Management (SLM), aim to help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change challenges in Chobe, Makgadikgadi and Ngamiland districts. Further the project aim to promote the uptake of green technologies in Botswana by showcasing their viability to the people.

During a recently held SLM conference in Maun, which attracted stakeholders from the three districts, the projects unveiled three climate smart products.

The product unveiled included Lake Ngami charcoal, solar stove piloted by Bio-Chobe and conservation agriculture, which was steered by Makgadikgadi SLM.

UNDP environment specialist, Oduetse Koboto said in an interview: “Through these, we wish to demonstrate that environmentally friendly technology is viable. Uptake of green technologies at the moment is still low. But we hope there will be an improvement”.

The production of the charcoal will be undertaken by Lake Ngami Community Trust, which is an entity engaging in community-based natural resources programme which includes fishing, tourism and other related services.

Koboto explained that the project funded a training trip for trust members to Namibia and procured requisite equipment. “This project presents dual benefits. It promotes quality beef by controlling bush encroachment for cattle farmers in the area. From remains of the unwanted trees we produce charcoal sold to the markets,” he said.

The fully packaged

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charcoal is produced from excess wood from a tree species called Acacia Erioloba also known as mogotho in Setswana.

Lake Ngami trust manager, Galefele Maokeng explained that the trust has come up with a strategy to ensure they continue producing charcoal from bush encroachment even after the project. He said: “This is a spinoff venture. We have packaged it to the tastes of the market”.

Maokeng explained that their product, which is packaged in four kilogramme packets, will mostly be sold to the tourism sector and members of the public and will in future be made available nationally with potential to exploit the export market. However, he assured that they intend to sustainably undertake the business without any harm or overharvesting of the Acacia Erioloba.

Meanwhile, Koboto stated that to help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change, they are promoting conservation agriculture (CA) in Makgadikgadi and Seronga areas in Ngamiland. Continuously, smallholder farmers are getting exposed to the woes of climate change.

Due to unpredictable rainfall patterns, farmers can longer rely on indigenous knowledge. CA refers to a set of soil management practices that minimise the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition and natural biodiversity. The practice has proven potential to improve crop yields and is environmentally friendly.



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