The Okavango Research Institute (ORI) is celebrating 25 years of its existence on 22nd September 2022. ORI was established in 1994 as the research wing of the University of Botswana. It is dedicated to the study of wetlands and adjacent drylands. In the last 25 years, ORI has conducted research in the following five cross-cutting inter-disciplinary research themes: a) Ecosystem Dynamics, b) Ecosystem Services c) Water Resources Management, d) Sustainable Tourism and e) Climate Change.
Notably research projects that ORI successfully implemented with its collaborating partners include: tsetsefly eradication in the Okavango Delta, the production of an application dossier leading to the listing of the Okavango Delta as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage, studies on trophy hunting as a conservation tool and a livelihood strategy, the project document which led to production of the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP), mid-term review of the ODMP and the final evaluation of the ODMP, teaming up with UNWTO in the production of the Botswana National Tourism Master Plan and Tourism Strategic Plan for Botswana and the development of a series of management plans for the various concession areas in the Okavango Delta and Chobe regions, the list is endless.
ORI has been successful in the graduate training with focus on Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Natural Resource Management. Since its first graduate in 2013, ORI has graduated a total 42 students at M.Phil. and PhD levels. This includes include: nine (9) Doctor of Philosophy (PhDs) and 33 Master of Philosophy (MPhil).
In its 25 years of existence, the contribution of ORI to societal engagement has been substantial. For instance, provided a leading role as a think tank on the following areas during the plan period: 1) national community-based-natural resources management, 2) wildlife conservation management, 3) hunting policy, 4) transboundary water resources management, 6) fisheries management, 7) sustainability of jatropha biofuel production and use, and cultural heritage and sustainable development, 8) tsetsefly eradication in the Okavango Delta, 10) Okavango Delta Management Plan and numerous management plans and strategic plans done for the various concession areas in the Okavango Delta and Botswana.
ORI has a total of 33 academic staff members in the establishment, 55 support staff, 30 graduate students and several volunteers. These personnel help ORI achieve its mandate and strategic goals. In this regard, ORI aims at conducting research that promotes sustainable development growth.
This is achieved through engagement in multi-disciplinarity and teamwork, writing proposals for large grants with adequate budgets for support functions, more engagement with stakeholders, including the Government of Botswana interests, Training graduate students from Botswana, the SADC region and elsewhere and more engagement in evidence-based policy formulation and advice.
In addition to research, ORI also offer short courses in our five thematic areas noted above. ORI remains the research and training institute of choice in Botswana. It is from this perspective that ORI is proud to celebrate 25 years of success. ORI is part of the motho-le-motho kgomo (one man one cow) project, a project that resulted in the birth of the University of Botswana.