The Minister for Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, announced during the week that the Botswana government is consulting with communities surrounding the Okavango Delta in order to get their support for an application for UNESCO’s World Heritage Status.
Kitso Mokaila said: “It is important for us to consult with Batswana so they do not feel left out. They need to be involved, so they could help us give the site the care it deserves lest we lose it.”
By signing the UNESCO World Heritage convention, Botswana pledges to conserve not only the Okavango Delta, but also to promote sustainable development that contributes to improved livelihoods of communities living within the vicinity of the site.
Angola and Namibia are also being consulted about the proposal as the water which enters Botswana, draining into the delta comes from Angola, through Namibia.
Kitso Mokaila said: “Angola and Namibian rivers give us water, if these two countries decide to use water or build dams in an unfavourable way, we will lose the unique freshwater inland Delta. In this regard it is important that they agree to support us and in return abide by the UNESCO laws on the protection of the World Cultural and Natural heritage.”
The Botswana government hopes that the listing of the Delta as a World Heritage Site will increase awareness of the area for tourism which will bring economic growth and create more employment.
Botswana also wants to have other sites listed by UNESCO – Gcwihaba Caves , Chobe-Linyati System, Makgadikgadi Pans, Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, Tswapong Hills and Mapungubwe.