--- 1. On behalf of the Government of Botswana and of course my Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism greatly appreciate to be part of today’s project assets and facilities handing over ceremony.
2. The Ngamiland Sustainable Land Management project was a noble initiative and vital because the Ngamiland District has sensitive ecosystems, notably the Okavango Delta and Lake Ngami, which need to be conserved and guarded against practices that may result in land degradation while ensuring that local communities, the district and the nation of Botswana benefit from the natural resources (including rangeland resources) within Ngamiland. The initiative partly effected the implementation of the Okavango Delta Management Plan.
3. The project urged stakeholders to work collaboratively, and ensure that the project’s contributions are made visible (including through social media, so as to reach especially the youth), and for the project outcomes to benefit as many people as was possible within Ngamiland. I am reliably informed that the project focused primarily on effective range management to improve range condition and flow of ecosystem services to support livelihoods of local communities in Ngamiland. The project also emphasized on the effective resource governance frameworks and markets, provision of incentives for livestock off-take and compliance with Sustainable Land Management.
4. I am particularly delighted that, the project was successfully implemented, and shall contribute to strengthened national capacity and improved policy and institutional framework for environmental management and sustainable development as well as enhanced capacity of communities for natural resources and ecosystem management and benefit distribution.
5. We are happy as a Ministry, that the project did not overly promote environmental conservation alone, but also paid attention to balancing this with the need for jobs, and especially in Ngamiland, the constraints faced by cattle owners; the need to balance the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development were reiterated. We know and understand that the funds mobilised from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) were only possible due to hard-work and collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Botswana, which partnership is encouraged going forward. Such a partnership is considered crucial especially since Botswana, as a middle-income country, does not have access to many of the traditional donors. For us, the United Nations (UN) is an extremely strategic partner who assists us mobilise financial and technical resources from other agencies such as the GEF and prospective supporters.
6. Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to convey my sincere gratitude on behalf of the MENT Executive to all stakeholders particularly the District leadership and many others who have worked tirelessly towards the realization of Ngamiland Sustainable Land Management Project.
7. Director of Ceremonies, it is noteworthy to recognize some of the key stakeholders who have contributed positively towards the realization of this project, both financially and in-kind: District Commissioner; North West District Council; Implementing Partners (Department of Animal Production and Department of Forestry and Range Resources); Botswana Meat Commission; Kalahari Conservation Society; Tlhare Segolo Foundation; Okavango Research Institute; Southern Africa Regional Environmental Programme; to mention but a few. It is gratifying to realize that these Institutions truly worked together and were determined to improve the ecosystems and peoples livelihoods of Ngamiland.
8. We are gathered here today to appreciate and witness the handing over of some of the benefits emanating from the SLM Ngamiland project. On behalf of the Government of Botswana, It is now my singular honour and privilege to officially receive the project facilities as the SLM Ngamiland project closes. This facility includes a caravan office and furniture which shall be under the custody of my Ministry through the Department of Forestry and Range Resources.
9. Director of Ceremonies, I would like you to note that this noble gesture of donating assets by UNDP has also been extended to other stakeholders such as the Lake Ngami and Tsodilo Community Trusts. I would like to also take this opportunity to urge the staff and community to look after these properties and guard against any vandalism. The properties should be included in the Government register and those vandalizing or misusing should be reprimanded accordingly.
10. In conclusion, I wish to urge all those who contributed to the success of the SLM Ngamiland Project to continue working together in monitoring and supporting implementation of the ongoing project activities by communities.
I thank you for your attention.