Okavango Case Study | The Water Page

1. DescriptionThe Kavango Basin is the fourth largest international river basin in southern Africa, and the Kavango is the largest river in the region that does not empty out into an ocean. Estimates of the Kavango Basin area range from 320,000 (Stanley Consultants 1995:2-13) to 570,000 sq km (Pallett 1997:73) and 586,000 to 721,277 sq km (World Resources Institute and Worldwatch Institute 1998:2-26). The main river in the catchment is the Kavango, or, as it is called in Angola, the Rio Cubango. The Kavango River rises in the southern Angolan highlands, flows southeastwards some 650 km to Namibia, where it forms the border for some 350 km. The river then turns southwards, crosses the Caprivi Strip (a distance of 60 km), and then flows into Botswana, where it supplies the Kavango Delta. The major tributary of the Kavango River in Angola is the Rio Cuito, and the catchment for the two rivers together is some 120,000, nearly all of which is in Angola.Mean annual runoff at the mouth of the Kavango River is 11,000,000 cubic meters per annum. Water inflow to the Kavango Delta ranges from 7,000,000 to 15,000,000 cubic meters and averages 10,000,000 cubic meters per annum. The vast majority of this inflow (97%) is lost to evapotranspiration and seepage. The long-term outflow of the Delta is estimated to range from 253-345 MCM/year (Scudder et al 1993:7).The Kavango River flows during the summer months, and in the fall the waters rise, supplied by earlier rainfall in Angola. The floods in the Kavango River supply the resources for a vast complex of waterways, reedbeds, floodplain, and islands that makes up the Kavango Delta in Botswana. The Kavango catchment can be divided roughly into three different zones:(1) the Angolan region, which contains numerous tributaries which feed into the river; the confluence of the Rio Cubango and the Rio Cuito is a permanent swamp;(2) the middle section, in which the river flows in a narrow alluvial plain up to 6 km wide (e.g along the Namibian border and across the Caprivi, and(3) the so-called Panhandle region in Botswana, where the river spreads out eventually into the Kavango Delta itself where it dissipates.The Kavango Delta of northwestern Botswana is a large inland delta or alluvial fan consisting of about 6,000 square kilometers of permanent swamp and between 7,000 and 12,000 square kilometers of seasonally inundated swampland (McCarthy 1993:283). Sometimes referred to as “the jewel of the Kalahari” (Ross 1987), the Kavango is a vast flood plain that supports a rich variety of plant and animal life (Botswana Society 1976; Lanting 1993; Lee and Lanting 1990). The Kavango Delta is the only Ramsar Site in the Kavango Basin, having been designated as Ramsar=s first Wetland of International Importance. At 68,640 square kilometers, it is the largest Ramsar site in the world, according to the Ramsar Convention Bureau.The Kavango Delta, the largest of its kind in Africa, is considered to be highly significant, both from the standpoint of its geomorphology and hydrology and its biological richness. Not only does it contain over 1,100 different species of plants and 65-70 species of fish, but it also supports a wide variety of large and small faunal species, some of which, including the sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei) are rare. The archaeological and historical records indicate long-standing human use (Campbell 1976).2. Countries Involved: Angola, Namibia, Botswana, ZimbabweThe percentages of the Kavango catchment in each country are as follows: Angola (28%), Namibia (30%), Botswana (39%), Zimbabwe (4%) (Stanley Consultants 1995:4-11) 3. Basin AgreementIn September, 1994, Angola, Namibia, and Botswana signed an agreement to create the Kavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM).4. Institutional StructureA Trilateral Permanent Water Commission (TPWC) that includes Angola, Namibia, and Botswana was proposed in 1994 in order to provide advice on environmentally and socially sustainable development of Kavango River waters. The Permanent Kavango river Basin Commission involving Namibia, Angola, and Botswana, deals specifically with the Kavango River Basin.5. Administrative StructureIn Botswana, the Department of Water Affairs in the Ministry of Mines, Minerals, and Water Affairs is the main agency responsible for water. Mines arrange their own water supplies which are subject to the provisions of the Water Act or, in the case of the copper and nickel mine, they get their water from the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), the agency that is mainly responsible for water in urban areas. The legislation which relates to the WUC is the Water Utilities Corporation Act. Other relevant legislation includes the Aquatic Weeds (Control) Act and Orders, the Boreholes Act, the Waterworks Act, the Town Councils (Public Sewers) Regulations, the Mines and Minerals Act. In the rural areas, it is the District Councils in Botswana that oversee water supply. In some situations, such as in the livestock and agricultural sector, water provision is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture. Some non-government organizations also work in the area of water supply, one example being Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which works in northern Kgalagadi District in conjunction with Maiteko Tshwaragano Development Trust (MTDT) at Zutshwa, south of the Matsehng Villages. The department in Namibia that is responsible for administering the Water Act of 1956 is the Department of Water Affairs . Rural water supply development is done by the Directorate of Rural Water Supply. Water in the agricultural sector is overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development. There is a Division of Hydrology in the Directorate of Resource Management which deals with the administration of the Water Act. As is the case in both Botswana and Angola, water development is also done by private sector operators, including borehole drilling companies. Municipalities in Namibia also deal directly with water, ensuring that water is reticulated and that there are adequate waste disposal facilities.In Angola, the water directorate in the Department of Agriculture is responsible for overseeing water resources. The management of water resources in the Kavango has been a subject of discussion in Angola, as has the possibility of developing a new dam on Cunene River (see the Cunene Basin Case Study).6. Administrative Structures at the District Level in the Riparian States6.1. AngolaThe Kavango River flows through southeastern Angola, where there are a number of districts that have high potential for irrigated and flood-recession agriculture. Initial surveys in this area indicate that the region could provide important agricultural and economic development opportunities in the future. The district administrations in the region are in need of assistance, both technical and financial.6.2. NamibiaThe Kavango River flows along the northern border of the Kavango Region of Namibia and forms the boundary between Kavango and Caprivi Regions. To the east of the Kavango river is the West Caprivi Game Reserve. The eastern boundary of this reserve is the Kwando River, another international river shared by Namibia, Botswana, and Angola. West Caprivi forms the western portion of the Caprivi Region, one of Namibia’s 13 regions defined by a Delimitation Commission in 1992. West Caprivi is part of one political constituency, that of Mukwe, which is named after the headquarters of the Mbukushu chief west of the Kavango River. Administration of the region is in the hands of the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.6.3. BotswanaThe Kavango Delta and Panhandle fall in the North West District of Botswana (Ngamiland), one of 10 districts in the country. The North West District is 109,130 square kilometers in size. The district land use plan indicates that 61,840 sq km (56.7% of the district) has been zoned communal, land which is under customary tenure and which can be allocated to people for residential, arable, grazing, and residential purposes. Two areas of North West District covering 6,950 sq km, or 6.4% of the district have been designated as commercial land which can be leased out to individuals and groups who then have de jure leasehold rights over that land in exchange for a rental payment to the district land board (the Tawana Land Board).The North West District has long recognized the importance of natural resources to is economic, social, and political well-being. The Tawana tribe, the main ethnic group occupying the district, established a tribal game reserve at Moremi in the late 1950s, one of the first of its kind in Africa. A fairly sizable proportion of the district=s land has been designated either as game reserve (3,600 sq km, or 3.3%) or Wildlife Management Areas (19,100 sq km, or 17.5%), areas in which wildlife and habitat conservation and tourism are to be the primary land uses. In addition, some of North West District=s land is considered State Land (17,640 sq km, or 16.2%), some of which has been allocated for use by the Ministry of Agriculture (e.g. as veterinary camps for livestock).The land use zoning by North West District authorities acknowledges the region’s special environmental qualities by setting aside large areas in which the primary land use is to be the utilization of natural resources (Kavango Community Consultants 1995). There were four Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) zoned in the North West District land use plan: (1) Kwando, (2) Kavango, (3) Ngamiland State Lands, and (4) G/wihaba (Quihaba). After 1989, the WMAs were subdivided further into rezoned Controlled Hunting Areas. Some of these Controlled Hunting Areas have been zoned for community use. The idea behind having Community-Controlled Hunting Areas was that these units, if they were controlled by a single institution such as a company or a community trust, would theoretically lead to better natural resource management and greater economic returns to local people.7. Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Kavango BasinIt is estimated that approximately 100,000 Namibians gain their livelihood from the Kavango River (Stanley Consultants 1995:4-11). Overall population density for the Kavango Basin is approximately 3 persons per square kilometer. In Botswana, there are some 25,000 people in the Kavango Delta itself, many of whom are relatively heavily dependent on the water and other resources associated with the Kavango (Scudder et al 1993). In West Caprivi, Namibia, there were 4,411 people according to the 1991 Namibian population census.The human inhabitants of the Kavango region support themselves through a combination of strategies, including foraging, fishing, agriculture, livestock-raising, and wage labor. An important production system in the Kavango Delta is flood-recession (molapo) agriculture. In the past, local people engaged relatively extensively in hunting and they sold meat to people in Maun, Botswana and other major villages. An important source of income for people in the Kavango region is the sale of firewood, thatching grass, poles, and palm leaves which are used for making baskets.Access to natural resources such as fish, thatching grass, palms (for baskets), and wildlife in the Kavango region is not necessarily completely equitable. As Skjonesberg and Merafe (1987:16) note, “Generally fishing grounds are open to everybody, but territoriality seems] to develop in areas that have been fished by certain groups or families.@ Thus, while the productive resources (fish, water, vegetation) of the Kavango region were considered common property resources, groups and communities did lay claim to specific areas where they foraged and carried out agricultural and other kinds of activities.The West Caprivi region of Namibia, which is 5,715 square kilometers in extent, contained approximately 6,600 people in the mid-1990s (Kasita and Nujoma 1995:8). The ethnic composition of the region is relatively homogeneous, with two San (Bushman) groups (Kxoe and Vasekele) and one Bantu-speaking group, the Mbukushu, residing there. The estimated population of Kxoe is 4-6,000 while the population of Vasekele (also known as !Xu) is 300-400 in West Caprivi. Most of the Vasekele, who came originally from Angola and number approximately 6,000 in Namibia, are found in Western Bushmanland (now called Otjozondjupa) and what used to be Ovamboland (primarily in Omusati and Oshana Regions). Many of the Mbukushu had left the West Caprivi area in the 1940s because of an expansion of tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans). Subsequently, some of them were moved westwards by the South West African administration after the game reserve was declared in 1963. Since independence in 1990, the government of Namibia has allowed Mbukushu and other groups to return to West Caprivi, with some of them settling close to the Kavango River. Some members of these groups were allocated rights to houses and plots of land in what used to be the large South African Defense Force camp of Omega.The ethnic composition of the Kavango Delta region of Botswana is somewhat more diverse than is the case for the West Caprivi region of Namibia (Campbell 1976; Scudder at al 1993:54-69). The Kavango Delta was inhabited by at least a dozen groups, with others having immigrated to the region over the past several hundred years (e.g. the Mbukushu, who came from the Middle Zambezi region). The population of the North West District stood at 94,194 according to the 1991 Botswana population census. Nearly 30% of the population of Ngamiland resides in Maun, the district capital.8. Development PlansThe Kavango Delta and the Kavango river have long been of interest to planners and government development agencies in southern Africa. As early as 1859 James Chapman, an early explorer of the northern part of Botswana, suggested that irrigation schemes might be developed south of the Kavango Delta and north of Lake Ngami. A large-scale irrigation and water transfer scheme was proposed by E.H.L. Schwarz in 1919. A.L. Du Toit proposed an irrigation scheme that included the Botletle (Boteti) River, Mababe Depression, and Lake Ngami in 1926. In 1955 J.H. Wellington proposed that Popa Falls on the Kavango River be developed for hydroelectric purposes. In 1963 B.G.A. Lund suggested constructing a canal that would link the Zambezi and Kavango river basins. In the late 1960s, Professor D.C. Midgeley recommended transferring water from the Kavango Delta to Pretoria via eastern Botswana. Smaller-scale proposals for water resource development in the southern Kavango Delta were made by the United Nations Development Program (see Botswana Society 1976) and by the firm Snowy Mountains Engineering, working as consultants for the government of Botswana (see Scudder et al 1993 for a summary of these proposals).In 1996, an issue arose between the governments of Namibia and Botswana over the use of the waters of the Kavango River. In June, 1996, the government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) decided to extract water from the Kavango and to transfer the water by pipeline to the Eastern National Water Carrier at Grootfontein which would, in turn, transfer water to the Windhoek area in central Namibia. Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, had less than an 18-month water supply and was facing a continuation of the serious drought that had affected much of southern Africa at that time.The initial proposal of the Namibian government was to do an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) only in Namibia. It was pointed out by the government of Botswana and various environmental organizations, however, that the EIA should examine downstream impacts of the water extraction project as well. The government of Botswana contended that the extraction of water from the river by Namibia could reduce flows into the Kavango Delta, and it noted that the Delta was a major wetland that supports sizable human and wildlife populations and that it is an important tourist destination. The result could potentially be complicated, it was argued, for the Delta and its inhabitants.For its part, the government of Botswana in the 1980s had proposed the establishment of a major water project in the southern portion of the Kavango Delta, the Southern Kavango Integrated Water Development Project (SOIWDP). This project was opposed strongly by local people, and the project was suspended after a review was done by a team of experts working with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) (Scudder et al 1993). The government of Botswana had agreed to an independent review of the project, something that set a major precedent, since it was the first time that a national government had asked out outside agency to conduct a review of a major water development project. A set of alternatives was provided by the IUCN consultants which emphasized the exploitation of groundwater, the diversification of local economies, capacity-building of local institutions, and community involvement in the management of the Kwando and Kavango Wildlife Management Areas (Scudder et al 1993).Complications arose in Botswana with the outbreak of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), or lungsickness, among cattle in western Ngamiland in February, 1995. The Botswana government decided to erect a series of cordon fences, including a game and livestock proof fence immediately south of the West Caprivi Game Reserve in northeastern Namibia. Namibia and various environmental organizations argued that the construction of this barrier could potentially have negative impacts on the region=s wildlife and environmental resource base. It was also pointed out that the fences could affect the success of some community-based natural resource management projects (CBNRMPs) that were on-going in the West Caprivi region.The idea of trusts, cooperatives, village share holding corporations, or other types of institutions for community level utilization of economically valuable flora and fauna is being implemented in several parts of North West District, including Sankuyo, just to the south of Moremi Game Reserve, and the village of Khwaai, which is at North Gate, one of the entrances to Moremi. These community-based natural resource management programs each have their own unique features. Sankuyo, for example, leased out its rights over wildlife resources to a safari operator in exchange for payments of P285,000 (US $79,230) in 1996 and P345,000 (US $95,910) in 1997 (Lucy Maotonyane, personal communication, 1997). Khwaai has opted to run its own programs and not to sub-lease the rights over its resources.One of the trends in the Kavango region in Namibia and Botswana is toward greater privatization. In Botswana, dozens of safari camps have been established in the Delta and in the Savuti area in the past two decades and tourist visits to the region have increased substantially.9. Water Use in BotswanaWater use in Botswana was estimated in the mid-1980s to be approximately 350,000 cubic meters per capita per day (Artnzen and Veenendaal 1986:15). It is not known what the maximum sustainable water consumption is because data on aquifers and recharge rates are inadequate. In Botswana, irrigation and livestock were the main water users in National Development Plan 6 (1985-1991) (irrigation: 35.1%, livestock, 35.6, urban, 11.6%, mining, 12.6%, and villages and other uses, 5.1%) (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning 1985). Urban and village water use has increased quickly as a result of population growth and economic development, as well as urbanization and better infrastructure (e.g. water standpipes that provide 15 liters per person per day, on site stations that provide 60 liters per person per day, and water infrastructure inside the house=s of people, 150 liters per person per day. The increase in water demand and use has been greatest in Gaborone, where the water consumption in 1985 was seven times what it was at independence (Arntzen and Veenendaal 1986).There are differences in water use by sector, as well as in the pattern of water use. The Livestock sector is a major consumer of water, as is the urban sector. Rural people tend to use less water than those in towns and cities. Women spend more time collecting and dealing with water than men, but male-dominated industries (e.g. mining) tend to utilize substantial amounts of water.Botswana=s largest perennial surface water sources are located in the north of the country (the Kavango and the Chobe). Surface water sources in Botswana such as the Kavango Delta generally have the following characteristics: (a) The largest sources occur where demand is presently low, (b) The catchment areas of most large sources are partly outside the country, 8 The water bodies have high rates of evapotranspiration (up to 2 meters or more per annum), (d) The availability of water is related positively to rainfall, which is highly variable in space and time, and the size of the catchment area. As Arntzen and Veenendaal (1986 point out, the major water problem in Botswana is to satisfy the increasing demand in a sustainable and affordable manner.The causes of increased water usage and water scarcity are related to population growth, population concentration, the diversification of human activities, and to development itself, which helps to increase incomes and improve infrastructure. This, in turn, leads to increased water consumption. There is an urgent need to integrate the administration of water resource use at various levels. The water laws provide for some protection, but regulations sometimes overlap, and they are not always enforced. A major problem in the ivestock sector of Botswana is that although land use planning efforts are expanding both in number and sophistication, the ad hoc drilling of boreholes continues without any real controls being implemented to ensure better range management. Efforts are now being made to coordinate activities between the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs (MMRWA), the Department of Geological Survey (DGS) in the same ministry, the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), which is a parastatal under MMRWA and the Ministry of Local Government, Lands, and Housing (MLGLH) which has overall responsibility for land use planning and policy and deals with local authorities including the District Councils and the Tribal Administrations. In the case of the latter, it is traditional leaders (chiefs and headmen) who still have some say over water point allocation, even though their land and water management responsibilities have largely been taken over by district Land Boards under the Tribal Land Act of 1968. Some water development in Botswana is done by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), which has a number of sections, including the Department of Agricultural Field Services which deals with crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, range ecology, and land development.In Botswana there are also many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), most of which were established originally for cultural and social purposes; now there are a number of environmentally oriented NGOs, including:Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS): an NGO mainly involved with wildlife conservation but it also deals with integrated resources management and conservation education.Forestry Association of Botswana (FAB): an NGO involved with establishment of agroforestry programs, research into indigenous species, and extension workThusano Lefatsheng: an NGO involved primarily with the protection and utilization of indigenous species of veld plants such as Devil=s Claw (Grapple Plant) and Morama (tsin beans)Botswana Society: a broad-based NGO that publishes a journal, hosts scientific meetings, and promotes cultural and environmental awarenessPermaculture: an NGO that promotes sustainable agriculture and resource management in rural areas10. Land Tenure and Water Resource RightsShifts occurred in land use in the Kavango region of Botswana over time, particularly with the imposition of wildlife conservation laws (e.g. the Fauna Conservation Act of 1961, now replaced by the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act, 1992) and the establishment of the Moremi Game Reserve by the Batawana Tribe, one of the first tribal game reserves in Africa. There were also changes in land management and administration patterns, especially after Botswana=s independence in 1966. The powers of traditional authorities (chiefs and wardheads) over land allocation were transferred to government land boards under the Tribal Land Act of 1968. The land boards have the power to allocate land for residential, arable, grazing, and business purposes, and it is the land boards who oversee the land use zoning and planning process in conjunction with the district councils.One of the major changes that occurred during the 19th century in what is now the North West District of Botswana was the spread of water points, particularly wells. As the number of water points expanded, the distribution and densities of livestock increased, and people were able to establish cattle posts (meraka) some distance away from permanent water. In a semiarid ecosystem such as that of the northern Kalahari Desert, water is a critical natural resource. It is crucial to the survival of people, their animals, and their crops, and it serves a critical role in maintaining ecosystem viability. It was also crucial in Tswana thought and ritual. The term pula (rain), for instance, is used as a positive statement at the end of all chiefly or political addresses in Botswana.Traditionally, there was only a limited sense of private ownership of water resources. As was the case with land, water sources generally were associated with social units (families, wards). Open surface waters such as rivers and springs were available for domestic use by individuals and groups (Schapera 1943:243-246). In grazing districts, on the other hand, use of surface water in the past was supposed to be confined to the wards granted access to those areas. Individuals belonging to other wards who drove cattle through the grazing areas were allowed to water their animals only after seeking permission from the modisa (overseer) or local wardheads. People who water their herds in another group’s grazing area run the risk of having their animals confiscated. Trespassing was seen as an infringement on the rights of local grazing resource users.The digging of wells in grazing districts was a crucial factor in bringing about changes in land management and administration patterns in Botswana (Hitchcock 1990; Peters 1994). Under Tswana customary law, open surface water was free to be used by anyone who wished. Where water was obtained through the expenditure of capital or labor, as in the case of construction or well digging, people were able to keep their water for personal use. They had to seek permission from grazing district overseers (known as badisa, like the term for herder), but once they had done so, they had de facto access to the land surrounding the water point.Changes in water technology initiated early in the 20th century served to restructure social relations among the various groups in Botswana. The digging of wells with the aid of dynamite and, later, the drilling of boreholes, led to a shift away from communal access to water resources to a system in which private ownership predominates. Water resources developed by individuals can be passed down from one generation to the next. The only people with rights to these resources are the kin of the person who originally made the investment of labor and capital in developing the water source. There were cases, of course, of conflicts over access to water resources. It was in the best interests of individuals to try and resolve those conflicts, as they had the potential for disrupting social relations at the community or even regional level.The rights to use and control water resources in Botswana are somewhat complicated. On the one hand, individuals had the right to use surface water for domestic purposes, while on the other, groups could restrict access to water resources of specific types or in certain places. Wells were owned privately but could be used communally. In order to ensure continued access to water sources, one needed to ensure that positive social relationships were maintained. In times of stress, people called on their alliances in order to ensure access to water. A rule among Tswana and other groups in Botswana is that individuals in dire need of water for themselves or their animals should be granted access to it.Major shifts in patterns of user rights to water resources came about with the introduction of boreholes. Individuals and groups that sunk boreholes had to invest substantial amounts of capital and labor in this endeavor. Those individuals with the resources to have boreholes dug were able to gain de facto rights over the water and the grazing surrounding the water point. These water points were controlled by the families who developed them, and they could deny other people access to that water and nearby grazing. There were instances in which families or syndicates (groups of cattle owners who invest in a borehole or well) charged other people for rights to use the water. Some chiefs (e.g. Khama III of the Bamangwato) resented this type of action and declared that water must not be sold but rather than it must be given freely or not at all (Schapera 1943:246).Besides open natural surface waters, wells, and private boreholes, there were also water sources that were available to the public. In the Kgatleng, for example, a chief, Isang, raised money through a levy and had a number of boreholes drilled which were then made available for use by the Kgatla (Schapera 1943:247, 1970:40-41, 99; Peters 1994). The Bechuanaland Protectorate Administration also had boreholes drilled, mainly in villages. It is important to note that the Resident Commissioner recommended the imposition of certain rules regarding use of the new water points in order to prevent overgrazing (Schapera 1943:247-248, 1970:99). These rules included the stipulation that the chief could establish limits on the numbers of livestock kept at each water point.Another suggestion was that limits should be placed on the amount of water pumped and the size of water storage tanks. In grazing areas, individuals watering their cattle at tribal or Protectorate Administration boreholes were supposed to pay fees for the privilege (Schapera 1943:244- 248, 1970:99). The money generated was supposed to go to the Tribal Treasury, which then used it to maintain the pumps and to pay for people to take care of the facilities.Borehole drilling in drier areas of rural Botswana (e.g. the Kalahari) facilitated expansion of the number of livestock that could be kept. It also ensured that water was available year- round, whereas in the past it usually was available only seasonally. The rising numbers of livestock and the reduction of their mobility contributed to a process of overgrazing and environmental degradation. As a consequence, both chiefs and the Protectorate Administration began to call for the privatization of land in order to counteract what they saw as problems of communal land and water access. This situation was by no means new; privatization had already occurred in freehold ranching areas, where individuals and groups were granted de jure rights to land in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Schapera 1943). The situation in Botswana today is a product of the history of land and water use and interactions among resident and immigrant groups.11. Natural Resource Management in BotswanaThe people of the Kavango Delta and surrounding areas utilize a wide variety of plant resources, some of which are eaten, others of which are used as fuel, construction, and manufacturing materials, and still others as medicines. Vegetation resources are covered in part by the Agricultural Resources Conservation Act and the Herbage Preservation (Prevention of Fires) Act, and range conservation activities are promoted through the Agricultural Resources Board (ARB) of the government of Botswana. At the local level, there are conservation committees in some communities that engage in conservation and resource management activities. Some local groups, such as those around Etsha on the western side of the Kavango Delta, are involved actively in both the exploitation and conservation of palm trees (Hyphaene ventricosa) which are used for basket manufacture (for a list of the various plants used in craft manufacture in Ngamiland, s