CITW Botswana – Greening our Delta

Read Kelly Baitshoki’s (CITW Botswana – Admin Assistant) report on Greening the Delta

The project of planting indigenous trees, which was launched this year by Children in the Wilderness Botswana, has come to an end. We ran this project as a competition, looking at efforts our schools have made towards this project. Climate change is a concern worldwide and it has been identified that certain human activities are the primary cause of these changes. If climate change happens because of the unsustainable acts of human beings, then it is in the hands of us as human beings to safe our planet, change our habits and understand that anything we do now, could possibly make an impact later. Pointing fingers at different stakeholders and industries will not do the world any good, but taking the responsibility as individuals will help save our planet effectively.

Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Botswana also saw it fit to play their roles in teaching the children about the importance of indigenous trees and their role in our environment. After teaching the children and teachers about indigenous trees versus exotic plants, the project of planting indigenous trees began. There are many tourism destinations in Botswana that are known worldwide, but this project was named after our Okavango Delta since all the schools we are working with are along the Okavango Delta, and as such no one can save it apart from us. Hence we named this project “Greening our Delta’’.

We began our assessment of the project, at Shashe Primary School where Mr. Cilas Mafoko (Okavango Wilderness Safaris Guide Trainer) was doing the judgement as the Eco-Club members were presenting. He then encouraged children to learn more about our indigenous trees and also plant more of them at home and also in their schools.

On the 7th October, the CITW team together with our Exploration guide Mr. Olebogile “Ollie” Porote, who volunteered to do the tree judgement at our Okavango Community Trust (OCT) schools (Seronga, Gunotsoga, Beetsha Gudigwa, Tubu and Habu Primary Schools). This project has intrigued many people – not only Wilderness Safaris guides, but also the community at large. The knowledge that the children displayed during their presentations on the traditional uses of trees, was interesting as it showed how seriously they had researched the trees they have gathered. In their presentations, the children often mentioned that the trees they have gathered are found along the river, which is our Delta channels. If the Delta or the trees are not well taken care of, there will be a problem which will affect the human beings, as well as our animals.

Mr. Ollie Porote encouraged both the teachers and the children to continue with this project even though the

competition is now over. He encouraged Eco-Club members to make it their responsibility that their clubs runs effectively and that they are dedicated to the projects that are being done. Ollie reminded the Eco-Club members that the Coordinators (our teachers) are there to guide them on their initiatives and that they should be more involved and come up with projects that will keep their Coordinators and Eco-Club members busy.

He also mentioned that although the competition is over it does not mean the climate change issue is over, and it is up to us as individuals to come up with ideas that can contribute positively to our environment.

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Dioum

Habu Primary School managed to outdo all of our schools. They planted 20 indigenous trees which were all in a good condition and their presentation was also on point. They impressed our expert judge Mr. Ollie Porote, and at the end of their presentation he awarded Habu his guide book which talks about the indigenous trees in the Okavango Delta. Seronga Primary School came second and the third position went to Beetsha Primary School.

Special thanks are directed to Mr. Attorney Vasco (Okavango Wilderness Safaris Sales Manager), for his continuous assistance by offering us his guides to assist CITW in times of need. Vasco has always shown interest in CITW and his office is always open and ready to offer help. Our great gratitude is directed to you Mr. Vasco for your generosity, and also special thanks to Mr. Olebogile “Ollie” Porote for accompanying the CITW Botswana team to do the indigenous tree judgment in our six schools. Distance and the road condition was not a barrier to him, but the passion, commitment and dedication he has, imparting knowledge to our children, encouraged him to reach out to our Eco-Clubs. Special gratitude also are directed to Mr. Cilas Mafoko for availing himself and his time to do the tree judgement at Shashe Primary School. We at CITW Botswana we have learned a lot from you good people. Lastly we would like to thank our Lisa the Teacher (CITW Environmental Education Resource Developer) for the good work she has been doing ever since we started this project.