Mmusi Calls For Communities’ Involvement In Conservation Efforts

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The Minister of Defence and Security Kagiso Mmusi has said that there is a need to involve local communities in conservation efforts, providing education and resources to promote sustainable practices and reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

Speaking during the joint launch of the Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) implementation plan between the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Namibia Defence Force (NDF) in Kasane this week Mmusi said that joint forces should focus on community engagement.

He noted that by integrating conservation with community development, they can create alternative livelihoods that reduce dependence on poaching and foster economic growth.

Mmusi said that CIMIC Plan marks a pivotal step in their journey, highlighting the importance of collaboration in fostering peace, security, and sustainable development for our communities.

He stated that by working together to protect the natural resources, they can enhance the lives of the communities and curb poaching for good. He expressed that a serious aspect of their collaboration is a collective conservation strategy that will enhance the tourism industry.

Mmusi noted that there is a need to identify and agree on outreach projects aimed at improving the livelihoods of border communities indicating that this can only be done successfully when they plan with the communities. He said that such projects should focus on infrastructure development, healthcare services, educational initiatives, and disaster response preparedness, ensuring that the citizens have the resources and opportunities they need to prosper.

‘‘The Chobe and Ngami areas are part of the Kavango – Zambezi (KAZA) Trans Frontier Conservation Area, one of the largest conservation areas in the world. This unique region is a testament to our commitment to cross border conservation and sustainable development. Protecting these areas is not only vital for biodiversity but also for the socio-economic benefits they bring to our communities,” he said.

Mmusi has extended his gratitude to the Namibia Defence Force for their unwavering commitment and partnership in this initiative, citing that together they are setting a powerful example of what can be achieved when nations unite in the spirit of cooperation and mutual support.

For his part, Namibia’s Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Frans Kapofi said for the two nations to be able to arrest and contain the situation, the communities living along the border must be made stakeholders in the campaign. He stated that their involvement and awareness are critical to the success of the security and law enforcement agencies’ efforts.

“Other stakeholders such as traditional and other community leaders as well as government institutions are very crucial in making this dream a reality. This plan is therefore not just a strategy but a beacon of hope for a safer and more secure future for our communities,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Chobe Machana Shamukuni noted whilst the  two countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations, the communities that live along the common borders experience challenges relating to their legal movement along common land and riverine boundary to access shared natural and water resources. Shamukuni stated that Chobe constituents accept and commit their responsibility to ensure that they as a community will support the programs that form part of the plan which are within their scope.

Meanwhile, the CIMIC initiative is rooted in Decision 71 of the BotswanaNamibia Bi-National Commission held in September 2023, that underscores the shared commitment to the theme: “Working together to ensure peaceful coexistence, security, and human development”.

The launch of CIMIC activities this week precedes a series of campaigns that will target twenty-one (21) villages along the common border on the Botswana side and the nineteen (19) villages on the Namibian side. These activities are designed to address the multifaceted challenges faced by border communities, ensuring that two Defence Forces are not only guardians of their nations but also play a vital contributor to human development and peaceful coexistence.

Amongst the primary components of the CIMIC activities will be two vital sensitisation campaigns and sensitisation Campaign on Illegal Border Crossing, Illegal Fishing, Poaching and Illegal Smuggling of Arms and Munitions will begin from 9 to 12 July 2024. Another sensitization campaign will be for human wildlife conflict and it is to be carried out from 6 to 9 August 2024, whereby communities will be educated and sensitised about animal behaviour and how to co-exist with them.

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