Bushmen's plea on World Water Day

March 21, 2005

This page was created in 2005 and may contain language which is now outdated.

As Botswana continues to deny them access to water, the Gana and Gwi Bushmen are issuing a plea to the government to recognise their rights. Three years after smashing their water boreholes and pouring their supplies into the sand, the government is still preventing the Bushmen from taking water into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Officials are emptying the water containers of those returning home.

The government cut off the delivery of water to Bushman communities in the reserve when it evicted them in 2002. Over 200 Bushmen have returned to the reserve since the evictions, and they are asking the government today to allow them to provide their own water supplies.

One Bushman says, ’We can only get water when it rains and ponds form. When it doesn't rain it's a problem. If there's no rain we will just die because even the underground roots become dry.' The water table in the reserve has fallen dramatically in recent decades due to boreholes being sunk for cattle ranching in the surrounding area.

Survival's director Stephen Corry says, ’World Water Day is supposed to be about giving more people clean drinking water, but the opposite is happening in Botswana. The Bushmen there are perfectly capable of running their own borehole but the government won't let them. Denying people their own water in a place like the Kalahari is worse than barbaric.'

Photos and footage available. For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]