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This week, &Beyond, one of the leading tourism companies in the Okavango Delta carried out corporate social responsibility activities at Tsutsubega settlement. &Beyond provided the settlement with a borehole and distributed jojo water containers to the community. They also mentioned that they pay their workers far above the recommended rates by the Botswana Government especially the Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs.
&Beyond has its origins in South Africa. It was established in 1991 in Phinda Game Reserve and has since grown steadily ever since to include facilities outside South Africa. Today, it has camps and lodges throughout southern and eastern Africa in countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique.
In Botswana, &Beyond operates luxury camps such as Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp and Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge. These are unique and luxurious accommodations in the Okavango Delta visited mostly by up-market tourists clients. &Beyond is noted for having total of over 29 lodges in its global portfolio, which also reaches Asia and South America. Its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility could not be ignored this week, especially the activities the company undertook at Tsutsubega Settlement.
CSR in the tourism context can be understood to involve the following: the respect for local and different cultures in the destination area, the contribution to economic growth and well-being of host communities, environmental conservation, the promotion of meaningful interactions with other stakeholders, and support of sustainable.
CSR like sustainable tourism is thus anchored on three pillars, namely: environmental sustainability, social sustainability, and economic sustainability. While CSR has a critical role to play in the socio-economic and environmental consideration in destination areas such as the Okavango Delta, it is not yet formalized in Botswana in terms of legislation. This is the case even though the tourism industry has been flourishing in the Okavango Delta for over four decades. This suggests that the CSR Policy and a CSR Act in Botswana are long overdue.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Botswana is undertaken on adhoc basis and is embedded in the tradition of philanthropy and has focused on education, health, religious activities and at times to needy communities. Companies which undertake CSR are known for donating to rural communities, hospitals, and military barracks in December especially at Christmas time.
A few companies have in the past provided sponsorship to football clubs. Therefore, different companies involved in CSR activities in Botswana are doing it out of their own will without necessarily being bound by any law or regulation. In other countries, CSR is enacted by parliament as law hence all the countries operating do it as part of the law. The time has come for Botswana to have a CSR Policy and Act to guide all the CSR activities being undertaken in the country.
Companies in Botswana not only those involved in tourism development in northern Botswana but other investments need to demonstrate commitment and responsibility towards environmental conservation and socio-economic well-being of communities in the country. Given the relatively large ecological footprint of companies operating in the country, it becomes more binding for them to contribute with a modest investment to overall prospects of human well-being and biodiversity conservation through CSR. The CSR Policy and Act in Botswana should provide an excellent framework for engaging companies in identifying the socio-economic and conservation needs. The CSR Policy and Act in Botswana should thus be adopted and address four areas, namely: environmental responsibility, ethical/human rights responsibility, philanthropic responsibility, and economic responsibility.