Community trust announces development plan for Seronga
Okavango Community Trust (OCT), is planning to build a 22-bed -hotel in Seronga village and a cultural village in Eretsha among their major community development projects this financial year.
Last week the Trust floated adverts in which they were calling for construction companies to express interest in taking up the construction works expected to begin by December this year.
“Concerning the costs, we cannot really say how much we are expecting to part with as the tender is still up for bidding and we cannot be seen to be guiding interested parties,” explained the Trust’s manager, Botshelo Sesinyi in an interview this week.
OCT covers five villages in the Okavango Delta panhandle including, Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa with a total of around 8000 people co-existing with wildlife.
“We expect the hotel to employ at least twenty people, while the Herbarium will employ two full time herbatologists or lab attendants and several other indirect employees,” explained Sesinyi before adding that, “Indirect because these are community members who will gather herbs and take to the lab and the two lab attendants are the ones who will receive the tourists and explain to them what the herbs are, their names, where they are found and their uses.”
Asked whether the tourists would not steal their indigenous knowledge on medicinal herbs, Sesinyi noted, “Not really because we are the ones who know what is done to have such herbs work. The herbarium is more of a conservation library where people will come to learn more about herbs and why they need to be preserved.”
The lab will be housed at the cultural village.
The two major projects are expected to bring more returns to OCT, which is in control of a wildlife concession in the panhandle.
Human-wildlife conflict poses a real threat that do not only endanger lives but also contribute to increasing poverty levels among villagers in these areas whose fields are often ravaged by elephants and livestock eaten by lions.
This conflict between man and animals was however partially resolved when the community adapted to their environment by acquiring a photographic concession from government and subleased it to big tourism magnates at a comfortable fee.
“Our people are largely agrarian, keeping a small number of livestock, and practicing flood recession farming. Fishing is also a significant source of livelihood as well as harvesting of aquatic and veld resources, so through the Trust we aim to bring development that will help us live comfortably like all other people from other parts of the country,” further explained Sesinyi.
OCT which was formed in 1995 has been working closely with Village Development Communities (VDCs) to implement development priorities for these villages through the VDC recommendations.
“The intention of commercialising the Trust is to get return on investment, we have to find and create different streams of income because our problems here are never ending, we are at the receiving end of natural challenge including floods and wildlife attacks among others,” said Sesinyi.