Mentoring impact story from Botswana Hub

By David Gerow

“I used to perceive myself as just a learner, but ever since I involved myself with the network, my worldview has really changed. Now I never see myself like an island. I just see myself as part of that bigger family, part of a bigger world. And I see myself as someone who can bring a change, whether big or small. I see that life is an exchange: you live together, you benefit from each other, you help each other.”

Goitse Mmeko, SFA Research Administrator for the Botswana Hub

Goitsemang Mmeko is the research administrator for Sustainable Futures in Africa’s (SFA) Botswana hub. She describes SFA as “a family of researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines with a common goal to achieve sustainable development by reaching out to communities and help solve problems through community engagement and involvement. A common goal is to have research impact, to leave impact out there in the communities.” But as well as impacting communities, Goitse credits SFA with having a positive impact on her own life, as she explained when she recently sat down with SFA co-director Dr. Deepa Pullanikkatil.

Goitse secured her Research Assistant (RA) position in March, 2017, just before SFA’s symposium in Botswana. She was a Masters student at the time, studying adult education. She graduated in 2018, an achievement she says was partly supported by her work with SFA, which has affected her worldview. “I used to perceive myself as just a learner,” Goitse says. “But ever since I involved myself with the network, my worldview has really changed. Now I never see myself like an island. I just see myself as part of that bigger family, part of a bigger world. And I see myself as someone who can bring a change, whether big or small. I see that life is an exchange: you live together, you benefit from each other, you help each other.”

The first major project Goitse collaborated on with SFA was the Botswana scoping study, which focused on human-wildlife conflict, particularly with elephants in a rural community at Mmadinare. Reflecting on her role in that project, Goitse says, “I’m so glad the hub coordinator involved me from the initial stage to the finish line. I was part of all the meetings, the community outreach, all the stages of the research trial.” Goitse was instrumental in establishing contacts with key stakeholders at Mmadinare. She contacted chiefs and sub-chiefs, members of the Village Development Committee, the Wildlife Department, Members of Parliament and non-governmental players. These contacts contributed not only to making the scoping study a success, but to Goitse’s own Masters: “It is out of this project, especially conducting the trials, that I started having my thesis idea.”

Goitse’s thesis is entitled Community Participation in Sustainable Tourism, and she considers her work on the Botswana scoping project an important factor in enabling her to conduct the necessary interviews for her research. “My entry point was the local leaders, whom I had already met (through the scoping project).

“That’s why my research was so fast-tracked, because I had already bonded, I had good relationships, I had established myself as a researcher.” These relationships made Goitse the only Masters student among the five in her department who managed to graduate within the projected time. “Indeed it was a miracle,” she says with confidence.

Goitse is quick to attribute some of the credit for her academic growth to her supervisor, SFA member MmaB Modise. “I’m grateful to MmaB because she mentored me in a lot of things. Nowadays, I am able to just draft a report and take it to her, then she edits and finishes it. Before I joined the SFA, I couldn’t even write a report.” Goitse also researches funding opportunities to present to MmaB and her colleagues, who make Goitse responsible for the application process. She then discusses her applications with MmaB and achieves a better understanding of how to find and obtain funding, another key skill that Goitse has developed with SFA.

Goitse also credits her SFA involvement with improving her communication skills and helping her learn about the world of IT-based communication platforms. Prior to securing her RA position, she primarily used IT to facilitate her learning, but she has now “seen the value” of e-platforms like Skype and has gained experience managing Google Drive, as well as blogging on behalf of SFA. Just as the SFA has benefitted Goitse, she has also benefitted the network with her hard work, her intelligence and her positive attitude. In the long-term, Goitse’s work with SFA has opened new horizons for her: “Now my worldview has expanded. I never thought I could be part of the academic world, but since I joined, I’m aspiring to do my PhD, I’m aspiring to write articles for journals. This has really developed me and I have no fear of doing my PhD. I’m so inspired.”


Botswana Hub - Publication

The SFA Botswana Hub conducted a trial study titled Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions: The Case of Mmadinare Community in the Central Region of Botswana. From this study a journal paper was extracted and submitted to Wildlife Interactions Journal. It is exciting to announce that finally the paper entitled “Toward Sustainable Conservation and Management of Human-Wildlife Interactions in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana: Villagers’ Perceptions on Challenges and Prospects” has been published and can be accessed from the below link:

HTTPS://DIGITALCOMMONS.USU.EDU/HWI/VOL12/ISS2/8


SFA Network Seeks New Ways of Managing Elephants

The University of Botswana’s Department of Adult Education led an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network for a workshop on human-wildlife interactions at the Mmadinare Main Kgotla on August 14, 2018. The Patriot on Sunday, a Botswana national Sunday newspaper, has featured the Sustainable Futures in Africa’s research trial, community event and community partnerships in a recent article discussing wildlife management:

http://www.thepatriot.co.bw/news/item/6003-ub,-sfa-network-seek-new-ways-of-managing-elephants-in-mmadinare.html


On Tuesday 14th August, over 300 people attended SFA Botswana's workshop Creating Sustainable Community Partnerships.

The overall goal of the workshop was to establish the significance of Sustainable Community Partnership for addressing pressing social and economic needs using the Mmadinare Human-Wildlife conflict study as a case.  This was to ensure that the findings of this study, conducted July 2017, are shared and taken forward for the benefit of Mmadinare, and many other similar communities. The event took place on Tuesday 14 August 2018 under the theme Creating Sustainable Community Partnerships. The turnout was fantastic, as over 300 people attended including the High Commissioner of Nigeria and Nigerian parliament officials, a representative from World Health Organisation and there was a great attendance from local parastatal organisations.  Many Botswana Ministers were also in attendance including those from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism led by the Director of Wildlife and National Parks and Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM), were among the many stakeholders who attended.

The local community of Mmadinare, a village in the central district of Botswana, came up with numerous suggestions to tackle the negative effects caused by Human- Wildlife interaction, among them were the following:

  • Culling not killing of elephants.
  • Awareness creation on how to live with elephants.
  • Creation of wildlife camps
  • Establishment of game reserve
  • Tracking and monitoring of elephants’ movement-collaring
  • Building of an educational park

The Director of Operations and Engineering, on behalf of all stakeholders, observed that the problem discussed affects infrastructure development as this is often damaged by elephants. The presence of the Wildlife Director helped in clarifying and identifying the possible options available raised through the community discussion. The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana underscored the significance of the University of Botswana and both industry and community partnerships in collectively finding a sustainable solution to the issues.

The SFA Hub in Botswana is happy with the progress made so far and plans to have a retreat to map the way forward.

Read the Research Trial Report Here:

‘Unearthing the Dynamics of Human Wildlife Interaction: The Case of Mmadinare Community in the Central Region of Botswana’

Botswana Research Trial

 

For more information visit The Patriot, Botswana's national Sunday paper, or the University of Botswana's website below:

Team Botswana ProgressThe SFA Botswana hub, based in the University of Botswana, has made excellent developments over the recent weeks. The official hub report has been shared amongst core SFA partners alongside core SFA Botswana stakeholders, particularly the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Deans of faculty of Environmental Science and Adult Education, alongside the Office of Research and Development in the University of Botswana. Currently we are working towards a stakeholder dissemination workshop, where we will report back to the community which were partners for the research trials of summer 2017, This will be held in Mmadinare with members of this community in the month of July 2018.

The team has finalised on the New Arts and Culture partnership during the Hub meeting held on the 18th April 2018. Mr Tom Ketlogetswe from Thapong Visual Arts organization was introduced to the team and they all welcomed him as a representative of Botswana SFA partnership with Thapong Visual Arts organization: https://www.transartists.org/air/thapong-visual-art-centre. Thapong Visual Arts Centre  is located in Gaborone and seeks to promote unity and excellence within the Visual Arts in Botswana in all communities, through sharing skills, enabling personal growth and development and promoting arts locally and internationally through networking.

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Of late we met with another potential Environmental partner, Botswana Community Based Organisations Network (BOCOBONET). The organization works with communities on issues of the environment and natural resources to promote Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) program. (https://trickleout.net/index.php/directory-pilot/botswana/bocobonet-botswana-community-based-organisations-network)

The Botswana SFA Hub coordinator, and administrator met with a team of  BOCOBONET delegates on the 8th of May 2018 for an introductory meeting. We extended our invitation of partnership to them and they enthusiastically accepted. They will be introduced to the team in the next meeting where it will be decided upon partnership with them.

-- SFA Research Administrator

Goitsemang Mmeko

 

facebook-transparent-logo-png-0 https://www.facebook.com/thapongarts.bw/

TRENDS2017 | Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies

Reflection on Conference Attendance

Conference Name:          TRENDS2017

Location & Date:              Pretoria, South Africa – October 17-19 2017

Paper Presented:             A Cross-disciplinary Approach to Locating Human Wildlife Interaction in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana

Authors:                              Modise OM. Lekoko RN , Thakadu O & Mpotokwane M.; University of Botswana

Presenters:                         Profs. Modise & Lekoko

TRENDS2017 marked the 14th year of PASCAL International conference and the first to be held in South Africa. The theme of the conference was Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies. Team Botswana was particularly attracted to the conferences strands that weaved around important areas of (i) the role of nation state versus the global economic power (ii) Cities would be like countries with global power and (iii) Rethinking the role of universities. The theme of interest for the Botswana team was the third strand because it wanted participants to dialogue about and gauge the present and future responsibilities of universities in collaborating with communities to address community or national development. Botswana’s paper on human-wildlife interactions fitted well in this strand calling universities to team up with communities to address local challenges using traditional community approaches such as Kgotla and story-telling thus connecting ‘with the old and modern African tradition’, as was one main theme of the conference. Proceedings were thus tailored to take a form of everyday life consultation and dialogue as used in “the Kgotla or Lekgotla in Botswana and South Africa”(TRENDS2017).  To this respect, our paper was able to bring unique practical perspectives on the importance of using traditional indigenous community practices in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.

The paper we presented was enlightening, shedding light on how universities can make themselves valued by the communities. Like the Sustainable Futures Network, the Pascal 2017 Pretoria Statement stated that “Pascal’s Learning City Network must be sustained in order to provide a platform for inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and international exchange between cities/regions”.  It unpacked how worldwide perspectives generated through research in universities could be prolifically applied on local possibilities. This we believe echoes the sentiments expressed by the Sustainable Futures Network.

 Our paper attracted constructive feedback:

Suggestions for improvement

Explore in detailed elephants migration routes

  • Correlation analysis and comparison with experiences elsewhere may add value
  • A broader geographical sampling (within Botswana) may be considered to allow comparison
  • Construct a robust sampling of study site
  • Collect more publicly available data e.g. through informal discussion of the villagers.

Commendation

  • The use of familiar and non-traditional research techniques like community forum (Kgotla) and story-telling
  • Cultural sensitivity of respecting community leaders (Dikgosi & elders) as principal investigators
  • Approaching the study with an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary mind-set and respect for community members
  • Robust data selection and analysis to bring out what conflict meant for the villagers
  • Presenting the interviews with more authority from the voices of community members

With all these comments our study will continue to improve and advance into a more holistic exploration of this challenge of human-wildlife conflict.

The Research Team in Botswana would like to appreciate the support and thank Mia Perry (coordinator of University Court of University of Glasgow - Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for this opportunity to present at TRENDS2017 conference, which in our opinion is a giant step on a journey to Building Connections for Sustainable Futures in Africa.

The comments given will be taken into consideration as the research advances.

For more information please visit: http://pascalobservatory.org/ & http://cradall.org/resources/links/pascal-international-observatory

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Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions

On the 10th July 2017, the Batswana research team traveled well to Mmadinare, Botswana where they conducted field research. Goitse, SFA Botswana network partner shares her experience below:

We were well received by the village Chief and elders. The community also received us warmly and they positively shared information with us. They showed a high level of interest during discussions which enabled us to achieve the idea of a Kgotla forum. The positive attitude and response portrayed by the community guaranteed future cooperation. People were very balanced as to what they could also do as a contribution to the problem of human-wildlife interaction. They were familiar with the subject as it transpired that they had already made a proposal for a game reserve through the ‘Community Development Trust’, with the objective of both keeping elephants away from people and at the same time benefiting from them as a tourist attraction.

'This experience brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.'

The venue was conducive for the community forum discussion, as it was a familiar and non-threatening environment. The team managed to achieve our goal because a smooth relationship was established right from the beginning. The community members participated fully and brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.

The team presented itself in a manner that enhanced the reception that they received. There was a free flow of information and people were free to discuss issues and there was no evidence to suggest that they perceived the team as outsiders. They, in fact, felt that a collaborative relationship could be established where they could always consult the team should they need technical or professional assistance.

The harmonious process helped the forum to produce quality results as people shared relevant information.

The forum was focused in terms of identifying the realities of their lives. While they shared concerns relating to their interaction with wildlife, they indicate a desire to co-exist with elephants which demonstrated a high level of maturity, knowledge, and understanding of environmental issues. They even asked to be part of the next network meeting through a representative if it were possible. Overall, people showed eagerness to participate - an attitude that made the whole trip a success.

 


Sustainable Futures in Africa Network Botswana Symposium

Building Connections: Sustainable Futures in Africa

Research Symposium

Department of Adult Education, University of Botswana

27th and 28th March

From March 27-29 2017 the University of Glasgow in partnership with the University of Botswana hosted the inaugural symposium of the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network in Gaborone. This document summarizes the inaugural meeting of this newly emerging Network and documents the plans of action and commitments that arose.

The symposium welcomed the founding members of the network from Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, Malawi, and the UK. We include academics, environmental activists, artists, and administrators. The symposium was designed to develop our relationships with one another, our knowledge and understanding of each other's contexts, and our collective plans of action. This was tackled through a two day event that included panel presentations, workshops, discussions, and social activities.

DOWNLOAD: For further information, download the SFA Post Botswana Publication.


Scoping Trial, Botswana

Scoping Trials

Sustainable Futures in Africa is an interdisciplinary collective aiming to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. In order for relationships to be built, methodologies to be explored, and to achieve the shared understanding that is aspired for, the SFA network is running trial research projects. These are being run with an emphasis on the trial and error aspect, for researchers to explore the unfamiliar, social scientists exploring hard science and vice versa. Furthermore colleagues in Glasgow will take every opportunity to work with the projects in Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi and Botswana as they develop. All research projects will concern the implementation gap in environmental initiatives through community engagement and public pedagogies.

Botswana is represented by four staff members of the University of Botswana, (two from Department of Adult Education; one from Okavango Research Institute and one from Department of Environmental Science. The Botswana research trial is scheduled to take place in July 2017 with a collaborative partnership including:

The Research Question has been defined as: Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions: The Case of Sepako Community in the Nata Region of Botswana

Professor MmaB Modise outlines the problem formulation and proposed research methods and design below:

Research Proposal

The Botswana team proposed to explore the issue of human-wildlife interaction. This is a topical issue that affects local development like grassroots livelihood, the tourism industry, food production, wildlife management. It also has an international dimension as wildlife moves in and out of the country. During the proposed trial study period, Botswana team intends to look into ways of managing the interaction, especially, the elephant-human interaction.

Botswana, in southern Africa is endowed with wilderness and wildlife, with an increasing elephant population estimated at 130,000-200,000. The threat with elephants is the trail of destruction they leave on their way such as destruction of human property (boreholes, fences ) and crops, human death and injuries. The causes of human wildlife conflicts are documented in literature, being expansion of human development (e.g., settlements) into wildlife habitats, and the intrusion of wildlife species in human settlements. The former is caused by constricting wildlife habitats due to the effects of the latter and consequently resulting in competition of resources.

One mitigation measure came through collaborative conservation initiatives between government and local communities, commonly implemented through CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resource Mgmt) programs. CBNRM is premised on the notion that when communities living within the wildlife areas receive benefits of living with the wildlife resources, and those benefits exceed the cost they incur, then they will effectively manage wild animals and co-exists with them. Another mitigation effort includes chilli pepper and beehive fence deterrents used specifically for the most destructive elephants. While the deterrents have the potential of promoting co-existence, concerns are that the chilli pepper is not locally available and thereby imported externally.

While this may be a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for local communities to venture in chilli pepper production for use as elephant crop raiding deterrent and promote food security. Moreover, since the chilli pepper is not locally produced, local communities can market the pepper in elephant prone areas of Botswana as an economic activity, thereby improving their socio-economic livelihoods. The proposed project will thereby explore the potential of production of the chilli pepper within one local community in Botswana as a means of promoting  i) human wildlife interaction and consequently co-existence and ii) improvement of rural livelihoods. It is anticipated that producing the chilli pepper locally will contribute to local economies while deterring elephants from crop destruction will contribute to food security.

Data Collection

In this type of research, researchers come with an understanding that community members “know best what their own needs are, and with genuine participation, they can make great contribution, (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/wired/community.html. Actually, Heron (1996) warns that "to generate knowledge about persons without their full participation in deciding how to generate it, is to misrepresent their personhood and to abuse by neglect their capacity for autonomous intentionally. It is fundamentally unethical" (p. 21).

Research Schedule

The research is being conducted in early July. The research team is heading to the Nata District, Botswana on Sunday 9th July. On the 10th and 11th and 12th July the research team conduct community based qualitative research comprising of focus groups and other ethnographic research focusing on the human wildlife interaction hot spots. The research team will be using a vast array of data collection methods such as photography, video filming and voice recording to gather the data required to support a mixed-method analysis of the context.

Nata District, Botswana: 

In Partnership with