News / Africa

Botswana Bushmen Win Right to Access Water on Ancestral Land

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In Botswana, Bushmen of the Central Kalahari are celebrating Thursday’s court decision granting them water rights on their ancestral lands.

In 2002, the Bushmen were evicted from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.  While they won the right to return in 2006, the government said they could no longer use a vital water borehole.

Now the Court of Appeal has struck down a lower court ruling that denied them access to the borehole.  At the same time, the court described government treatment of the Bushmen as “degrading.”

Fantastic… wonderful

“This is a wonderful ruling from the appeal court of five judges, which basically has found the Botswana government guilty of degrading treatment towards the Bushmen,” says Fiona Watson, field and research director for Survival International.

The ruling, she says, gives the Bushmen access to the borehole, which the government has sealed, and the right to drill new boreholes.

“So this is a fantastic ruling because it completely supports the Bushmen and we really hope that now this will draw a line under what has been several years of total misery and despair for the Bushmen, who have been denied access to water in one of the driest and harshest places in the world,” says Watson.

Central Kalahari Bushmen celebrate appeals court victory granting them water rights on ancestral lands
Central Kalahari Bushmen celebrate appeals court victory granting them water rights on ancestral lands

Watson says it’s unlikely the government has any further legal action it can take to again block access.  “This is the highest court in the land, with five judges who come from Commonwealth countries and who were sitting at the Court of Appeal in Lobatse,” she says.

How many?

While Bushmen won the right to return to the game reserve, getting an exact count on how many actually have can be difficult.

Watson says, “Bushmen come and go, partly because it has been so difficult, if not impossible, to access water on their land.  But at any one time we estimate there are probably about 300 to 400 Bushmen currently living in the Central Kalahari, but I think now with this wonderful ruling many Bushmen will return to exercise their constitutional right to live on their ancestral lands.”

Finding water

The borehole must be inspected to learn whether it can actually be reopened after being sealed by the government.  “Nobody knows what the condition of the borehole is,” says Watson.

Also, drilling new boreholes would be expensive.  “Finding water in the Kalahari is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack,” she says.

Survival International says the Botswana government continues to “prevent the Bushmen from hunting for food” in the reserve.  The government recently awarded a contract to Gem Diamonds for a $3 billion mine near a Bushmen community.

The Botswanan government had said it relocated the Bushmen to give them better access to health, education and other services.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs