Tourism development, rural livelihoods and land use conflicts resolution at Tachila Nature Reserve, NED, Botswana
PublisherUniversity of Botswana, www.ub.bw
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Land acquisition by the Tati Concession Company in the North East District (NED) of Botswana during Botswana’s colonial period (1885-1966) has created antagonism among the local people. The company (TC) demarcated land to white settlers and dispossessed the local people thus rendering them landless. TNR is found in the land owned by the TC and absentee landlords. In 2007, the governance structure of TNR was established. TNR is managed by a Board of Trustees (Tachila progress update, November 2012). The TNR project is developed on an area of approximately 81.93 square kilometers of freehold land. Local communities in the NED argue of having been dispossessed of their land during the Botswana’s colonial period.The objective of this study therefore is to assess the role of tourism in achieving rural livelihoods, conservation and land use conflict resolution in the NED using Tachila Nature Reserve (TNR) as a case study. The study was carried out at Matshelagabedi, Ditladi and Patayamatebele villages. The study is informed by the social exchange theory (SET). The study used a mixed method approach which includes both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The questionnaire was the data collection tool used and techniques such as interviews and focus-group discussions were also used. Primary sources and secondary data sources were also used. Face-to-face interviews with household representatives and TNR stakeholders were conducted. Informal interviews were also conducted with key informants such as village leadership at Ditladi, Patayamatebele, and Matshelagabedi. Secondary data sources include both published and unpublished materials on tourism development, livelihoods and natural resource management. Results indicate that even though local communities derive insignificant benefits from tourism at TNR, the tourism industry has the potential to contribute to improved rural livelihoods and conflict resolution. Results also indicate that households have negative perceptions towards TNR.This is because local people feel they have been excluded from the established nature reserve management, restricted from access to natural resources where the nature reserve is established, while subsequently there were no benefits from tourism at TNR. That is, local people do not derive significant benefits from the development of this nature reserve. Results also indicate that there are also no strategies to resolve the land conflict in the NED, hence land use conflicts continue in the area. Lack of strategies to solve land use conflicts result in tension and negative attitudes between TNR and the local people. In conclusion, these results suggest that, if local communities do not receive benefits from tourism development they are unlikely to support conservation goals. If people do not enjoy and share profits from tourism development, they develop negative attitudes and resistance to such development. If tourism development does not address urgent societal needs such as land use conflicts resolution, local communities find it unimportant to enjoy such a tourism product hence land use conflicts continue. The development of tourism competes with other land uses such as pastoral farming, arable farming, forest product use and can even accelerate land use conflicts with the neighboring communities.