Six Boreholes Relieve Panhandle Villages’ Of Water Challenges

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…. the project is a collaboration between Wilderness, Ecoexist and partners

Eastern Okavango panhandle residents of Gunotsoga, Mokgacha, Eretsha, Beetsha, and Gudigwa have at last breathed a sigh of relief as Wilderness Safaris and Ecoexist in collaboration with other partners recently donated six boreholes to these villages to help mitigate water challenges in the area.

Human-wildlife conflict, particularly to do with elephants has been one of the hotspots in the area owing to residents having to endure long distances to collect water. It was during these sojourns that they came face to face with wild animals.  To alleviate these risks and reduce the physical strain while in the process encouraging human-wildlife co-existence, drilling boreholes near the ploughing fields was identified as a practical solution.

Speaking at the official handover of the boreholes in Eretsha recently, OWS managing director, Joe Matome pointed out that the project forms part of a broader vision of Wilderness Safaris and Ecoexist to provide accessible water within clustered farming lands.

“This initiative aims to prevent and eliminate wildlife-related threats, reduce physical burdens on farmers, and minimise elephant crop raiding,” he stressed adding that as a result, it is expected to also increase the farmers’ annual harvest.

This as the boreholes were strategically placed in areas with a higher concentration of ploughing fields to ensure that more farmers can easily access the new sources. According to Matome, these areas have also been identified as potential future sites for fenced agricultural clusters.

The boreholes also form part of OWS’ broader vision to introduce sustainable farming practices in these Okavango Community Trust villages.

“Agriculture in these villages faces numerous challenges, including unpredictable weather patterns as a result of climate change, limited access to modern farming equipment and technology, road infrastructure that increases the cost of agricultural services, and the constant threat of wildlife. However, the introduction of these sustainable farming practices and the strategic placement of boreholes are significant steps towards overcoming these obstacles and ensuring a more secure and productive agricultural environment for the farmers.”

From the total contribution of about P269 million that OWS made towards communities (P61 million directly) and the country in the past 10 years, Matome indicated that the one which they are proudest of is this P2.1 million worth boreholes project because of its direct and immediate impact on communities.

A delighted farmer from Eretsha, Mooni Karee foresees their crop yields improving as they will no longer be strained by collecting water from afar, thanks to the boreholes. 

OCT Vice Chairman, Olekile Lekgoa also concurred that farmers are now relieved from the dangers posed by elephants while in search of water, adding that many of these farmers were elderly people who were always physically burdened by carrying water over such long distances.

“We appreciate Wilderness, Ecoexist and the donors to have found it fit to extend a helping hand to our communities because the project will truly transform their lives,” appreciated Lekgoa who also urged community members to use the boreholes responsibly.

Over P1.2 million has been invested in drilling and equipping the six boreholes, two of which are solar-powered, while the remaining four are hand-pumped. These boreholes are all situated to the eastern side of the villages, with Eretsha having two in the existing Ghando Cluster and one each for Gunotsoga, Mokgacha, Beetsha, and Gudigwa respectively.

This project is a collaborative effort involving the leadership structures of the five villages, local farmers, Wilderness Safaris, Ecoexist, Franklin Wells of the World Foundation, the Okavango District Council, and various institutional and private donors who support the development work of Wilderness Safaris (Chris Koenemann, the Raschle Family, and Renate Werthenbach of All Around Africa) and Ecoexist (German Cooperation, KAZA, and KFW).

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