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Council calls for special waiver.

The North West District Council (NWDC) is expected to submit recommendations to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to issue a special waiver for the recognition of Ditshiping as a settlement.

This follows a council resolution after a NWDC assessment report on the said settlement.

The report recommended that the settlement should not be gazetted or upgraded to a village, as it did not meet the requirements as per the national settlement policy.

Another reason advanced was that it was located within a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) hence the need to preserve the tourism that occured in the area, and that the population of the settlement was 139 which was below the 500 or 250 for Rural Area Dweller (RADs) settlements.

Despite the recommendations, a majority of councillors proposed that the settlement should be gazetted on compassionate grounds as the area was difficult to access services from because of its location in the Okavango Delta.

Councillors also argued that Ditshiping was cut off from the rest of the country during rainy seasons as it was difficult to access.

Furthermore, they said if recognised as a village, Ditshiping would benefit other catchment settlements nearby as they would have access to basic social services.

However, in terms of development, the area lacks basic social services such as schools, portable water and health services. All services are administered from Maun.

Council chairperson, Mr Duncan Enga revealed in an interview that the council resolution came after President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama visited the settlement and residents requested for the recognition of their village.

He said residents called for a special waiver for their settlement to be gazetted arguing that they were not accessing services.

He said President Khama requested the responsible minister to take up the issue and respond to the plea.

Mr Enga said the minister could not consider the issue without the council's input hence their resolution.

He said they would be waiting for a response from the minister.

He said the minister has the power to approve or decline the recommendation, adding that if he finds the issue complicated, he could escalate it to President Khama for a final decision.

Ditshiping is located in a concession area, NG32, leased to the Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust.

The settlement falls within an area zoned Wildlife Management Area as per the Ngamiland Integrated Land Use Plan in Batawana Tribal Territory.

The assessment report noted that the settlement has a population of 139 people as per the last 2011 population census, and that the existing infrastructure at the area included a mobile clinic, community hall, LA2 houses, water pipes which had been connected but were not operating as locals fetched water from the river.

It also noted that rations and old age pensions were provided on monthly basis.

The livelihood of people in the area is depended on harvesting wild products to make baskets and to sell thatching grass and reeds.

Since there is no pastoral farming, the only conflict in the area is between arable farmers and wild animals which destroy crops.

Some of the factors that are considered for a settlement to be gazetted are population size, economic potential and availability of natural resources, especially water to sustain the growth of the settlement.
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Publication:Botswana Daily News (Gaborone, Botswana)
Date:Dec 14, 2017
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