Gakhibana Vuure Vapens Firefighting Volunteers Team

Tsabong, 17–21 August 2020, the Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystem Project (KGDEP) in collaboration with Botswana’s Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR) conducted the second session of bushfire fighting training for two villages in the Kgalagadi South district, namely Gakhibana and Khuis. This training aligns with the planned trainings for communities in the Kgalagadi district as stipulated in the KGDEP 2020 Annual Work Plan (AWP) and follows the initial training conducted in June 2020 in Kgalagadi North’s (Zutshwa and Ngwatle) villages. The second training in Kgalagadi South included 20 community members from both Gakhibana and Khuis and was focused on improving community-based fire management skills in the Kalahari region for prompt responses to fire incidents within their communities, and subsequently improving rangeland integrity of these communities.

Overview of the training

The training facilitators comprised technical officers from the DFRR, namely Mr Copper Sakhu, Mr Odirile Phori and Ms Gloria Komanyane. Including both theoretical and practical components, the training commenced with an oral presentation and group discussions, while subsequent practical fieldwork entailed prescribed fire suppression techniques. Through active participation, the trainees displayed their enthusiasm and willingness to be pro-active in all practical activities required by the training.

At the training in Gakhibana, there were 26 trainees, 10 of which were women and 16 were men. In addition to general community members, village extension personnel, as well as the Village Development Committee (VDC) chairperson, Kgosi Jan Jacobs and three headmen participated in the training. Towards the end of the training, the trained members were organised into a firefighting team named “Gakhibana Vuure Vapens Firefighting Volunteers Team”.

Village Development Committee (VDC) chairperson Kgosi Jan Jacobs of Gakhibana stated: “I am very happy and thankful about this training. We managed to gain more skills and knowledge about managing bushfires, but I would like to encourage my people to go out and spread the knowledge gained to other community members.”

On his part Chairperson of Khuis Beat Fire Master Firefighting Team Mr Keoagile Tumaeletse  expressed his gratitude to UNDP through the Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystem Project and Department of Forestry and Range Resources for offering them an opportunity to be trained on basic bushfire management. He encouraged the teams to work together towards fighting bushfires in the district to save grazing lands for our animals. 

In the village of Khuis, 22 community members were trained, consisting of 11 women and 11 men. This training also included Kgosi Thatano Botsheleng and three VDC members. The firefighting team formed subsequently for rapid response to fire incidents was named “Khuis Beat Fire Masters Firefighting Volunteers Team”.

Practical training session with the volunteer team from Gakhibana.

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