SADC-GMI Commissions water supply pilot projects in Gobojango and Tsetsebjwe villages in Botswana
Sustainable Groundwater Development for water and food security is extremely important for the SADC region. Consequently, the Southern African Development Community Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) endeavors to implement projects that are transformative and life-changing to communities on the ground. This has been evident in many projects the SADC – GMI has implemented in the SADC region, including the water supply pilot projects implemented in Botswana (Gobojango and Tsetsebjwe villages). Tsetsebjwe and Gobojango are in Bobirwa sub-district in Central Botswana. Bobirwa district had good rainfall patterns in the past, but due to climate change the area was hit by drought which put pressure on water and food security especially in rural communities where the majority rely on agriculture for food security and improved livelihoods.
Recognizing the significant role of groundwater across the region where at least 11 million people are facing critical food shortages due to the drought caused by climate change, SADC-GMI has implemented several interventions to assist communities to access safe water for domestic and agricultural use. In the last 3 years, 10 SADC Member States benefitted from the interventions supported by the SADC-GMI through the sub-Grant scheme which was part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States Project.
On 17 May 2021, SADC-GMI and the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) commissioned the project to supply water to communities in Gobojango and Tsetsebjwe villages. The projects were first implemented in 2007 and 2011 as part of the Groundwater and Drought Management project in SADC funded by the Global environmental Facility (GEF) . After an assessment conducted by SADC -GMI in 2018, it was discovered that the projects were not operational and the infrastructure in both pilot sites (Tsetsebjwe and Gobojango) required rehabilitation, various reasons were sited for the dysfunctionality. In 2018, the Botswana Department of Water Affairs selected the Kalahari Conservation Society as the sub-Grantee to receive the grant from SADC-GMI for the rehabilitation of the project under The Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project funded by the Global environmental Facility (GEF) and the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) through the World Bank .
The project in both sites aimed to provide sustainable groundwater supply for horticultural purposes in pilot sites through alternative and sustainable interventions, as a climate change mitigation measure.
As the project was commissioned, the following milestones had been achieved:
In Tsetsebjwe, initially a borehole was to be drilled but due to lack of water, an existing hand-dug well was tested and equipped with a solar pump system while in Gobojango, an existing Council borehole was rehabilitated and also equipped with a solar pump system. In both sites, 1-hectare garden plots fenced, and an irrigation system that includes a 98 000L water reservoir was installed.
Due to delays in implementing the project, the training of the community representatives from the two villages was not done as planned before the closure of the project. However, through the relationship and collaboration that KCS had with District government institutions, the Department of Crop Production is to provide capacity support to the communities so that they can be able to produce fresh vegetables to feed their families and sell the surplus to the local market.
A total of 7094 community members are to benefit from the project, (2246 Gobajango) and (4848 Tsetsebjwe) respectively. Through water supply and gardens that were rehabilitated as part of the project, water and food security has been improved. The project has also improved livelihoods as communities are able to sell fresh produce to the local market, which helps them to generate income. Access to water will also free women and girls from the work required to transport and store water, allowing them more time to focus on education and other activities.
These projects were implemented in full consultation with the communities to ensure better management of the schemes post the project implementation.
The commissioning of both projects was graced by the presence of various stakeholders including the KCS Chief Executive Officer (Ms Thato Morule), District Officer Development (Mr Claude Batsile) representing the Office of the District Commissioner, Acting Bobirwa Sub-District Council Secretary (Mr Kgomotso Molatlhegi) and representative from the Bobonong chieftainship (Mr Onketetse Serumula). The event was also graced by the Member of Parliament for Bobonong Constituency, Honourable Mr Taolo Lucal and other dignitaries from the district.
Providing background information on the project, Ms Thato Morule, KCS Chief Executive Officer highlighted the importance of the community involvement during the implementation of the project and said this would ensure ownership of the project by the community and also guarantee sustainability post the implementation.
Appreciating the completion of the project, in a virtual interview, Mr Keodumetse Keetile, the SADC-GMI National Focal Person in Botswana said the Government of Botswana is grateful to SADC-GMI for the completion of the Tsetsebjwe and Gobojango projects. He said the water will be primarily used to support the horticultural initiatives in the two villages thus contributing to food security in the area. “This endeavour to build resilience and participatory monitoring of local groundwater resources at community level is desirable to mitigate against the negative effects of drought and climate change in the long term not only in Botswana but in similar drought-prone areas in the SADC region”, said Mr Keetile.
“Our core mandate is to promote sustainable groundwater management and provide solutions to groundwater challenges across the SADC region, and we are glad that we have been able to collaborate with the Botswana government to successfully implement this community project. Through the project, water and food security has been drastically improved”, emphasized Mr James Sauramba, SADC – GMI Executive Director.