Part 3: Livelihoods Of People In The Okavango River Basin (Botswana)


The Okavango River Basin is an important ecosystem to both humans as well as to animals, plants, insects, birds and other micro-organisms found in it. The basin has sustained the socio-economic livelihoods of most people living along the Okavango Basin in Botswana for centuries. The various ethnic groups found in the Basin are interrelated and have co-existed with each other for centuries.

Major migrations into the Okavango Basin introduced a diversified and improved way of natural resource use. The various ethnic groups possess various skills and techniques, which these groups use to exploit natural resources. Such skills and techniques are passed to other groups in the delta. For example, the Bayei were responsible for the introduction of fishing techniques and mekoro, both of which are still being used by the people in the area.

The Bayei and the Bambukushu taught the delta dwellers molapo farming which has become one of the agricultural methods used by the people living along the Okavango River and its distributaries. The contribution of the Banoka to the economy lay in their expert knowledge of digging game pits and the manufacturing of a variety of poisons for hunting purposes. The Bakgalagadi and the Basarwa excelled in the production of leather goods, and their knowledge of plant and animal life, the Basarwa were specifically famed for their use of medicinal herbs.

Most people living in the Okavango River Basin are interrelated and share the same background. As a result, some of the languages that are spoken in Southern Angola are also spoken in the Kavango region in Namibia and spoken in northern Botswana. The assumption that can be made is that these people are likely to be from the same ancestor. For example, the Bambukushu live in Namibia and Southern Angola. Some of them are found in South-western Zambia. Some of the Bayei also live in northern Namibia.

Finally, it is important to note that for centuries, the different communities that live the Okavango River Basin have depended on natural resources found in the area. These societies utilize natural resources in their environment sustainably. Each community had unwritten laws, customs, and traditions as well as an institutional framework that ensured the sustainable use of natural resources in the area.  

Overharvesting of resources was unheard of in the Okavango Basin until the arrival and the introduction of European trade in the area from the 1850s. The commercialization of natural resources such as wildlife and the breakdown of the traditional institutional framework in the management of natural resources resulted in the over utilization of wildlife resources in the area.

This problem, together with increased human population and socio-economic activities continue threaten the future availability of natural resources in the delta. In the next issues, we will discuss the expansion of European trade in the Okavango Delta, Creation of Moremi Game Reserve, introduction of tourism development and threats to the Delta.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this

Maun Welcomes Ethiopian!

Destination Maun biggest winner in Ethiopian Airlines’ new route New...

It’s All Systems Go For Free And Fair Elections -IEC

With just about three months left before Batswana head...

Councillors Call For Special Grading Of Bojanala Ward

…and inclusion of wards’ catchment areas Some councillors in the...

State Media Strategises On Election Coverage

urged to leverage effectively on resources provided The management team...
Verified by MonsterInsights