Water ban - Bushman leader travels to London

The Botswana government has banned the Kalahari Bushmen from using their own water as UN World Water Day approaches on 22 March. A Bushman leader is travelling to London this week to protest against the ban.

Botswana's Attorney General has written to the Bushmen's lawyers turning down their request for permission to install a pump at an existing borehole on their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The reason given was that the borehole is the property of the government.

Botswana's High Court ruled in December that the Bushmen had the right to live on their land, and that their forceful eviction from the CKGR in 2002 had been illegal. They now wish to organise their own water supply, at their own expense.

Jumanda Gakelebone of Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari said today, 'The court said we could go back to our land, but now we see that the government is doing everything it can to stop us. Why else would it stop us using a borehole that nobody else is using? Without water we cannot live in the Kalahari.'

Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, referred to the right to water as a 'fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right'.

Gakelebone will be in London from 20 to 26 March, and is available for interview.

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]