Water for tourists in the Kalahari, but not for Bushmen

April 21, 2008

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Tourist lodges requiring huge amounts of water are to be built on the land of the Kalahari Bushmen – but the Bushmen are not allowed to pump water from their single borehole.

The government has invited companies to tender for concessions to run tourist lodges at three sites in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). One of the sites is very close to the Bushman community of Molapo. The companies Afro Ventures Botswana and the Safari Adventure Company have been asked to bid for this concession.

The Bushmen have been asking the government to allow them to reopen a disused water borehole inside the reserve, ever since the government dismantled it during the evictions of 2002. The Bushmen say they will seek their own funding to pump water. But the government has refused, on the grounds that the borehole is ‘government property’.

The Botswana government evicted the Bushmen from their land in 2002. The Bushmen won the legal right to return home in December 2006, but the government is making this almost impossible by preventing them from pumping water in what is an extremely arid and inhospitable environment.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The government's plan to build tourist lodges in the reserve makes its denial of water to the Bushmen seem crueler than ever. Some tourists thinking of visiting are bound to change their minds when they hear what happened to the Bushmen there.’

Several boreholes have already been sunk in the reserve in preparation for Gem Diamonds’ $2.2 billion diamond mine at the Bushman community of Gope.

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