Skip to main content

On this Mother Earth Day, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) supports the natural world and acknowledges our shared responsibility to promote a sustainable future. We recognise water’s crucial role as the lifeblood of our ecosystems and communities, especially in light of the increasing challenges posed by climate change.

Human activities such as deforestation, intensive agriculture, livestock production and the illegal wildlife trade can hasten the planet’s destruction through climate change and disruption of biodiversity.

Today marks the third Mother Earth Day celebration under the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. Ecosystems are responsible for sustaining all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier our planet and its inhabitants. Restoring our damaged ecosystems can effectively combat poverty and climate change and prevent mass extinction. However, the success of this endeavour relies on everyone’s participation.

Today, SALC draws attention to an essential issue in Botswana. The Botswana Gazette, with support from SALC, is fighting for the public’s right to access information. This case emanates from the need to obtain a research report on the alleged illegal damming of the river[s] distributing towards the Gaborone Dam, which the Water Utilities Corporation has refused to disclose.

This lack of transparency hinders the community’s ability to make informed decisions about water management, which is a matter of great urgency. We must uphold principles of openness and accountability to ensure that the public’s right to information is respected.

The Gaborone Dam, a crucial reservoir for the people of Botswana, has been at the centre of controversy due to reported obstructions that affect its water flow. The implications of restricted access to such vital information are far-reaching, impacting not only the environment but also the socio-economic well-being of the region.

The matter appears before the Botswana Court of Appeal later this year after the High Court ruled the report was intended for the benefit and aid of its operations and not for public consumption. The Botswana Gazette appealed this ruling.

As we celebrate Mother Earth Day, we must emphasise the significance of open information sharing in Botswana and other regional countries regarding water resource management. The management of water resources is a shared responsibility that requires the active participation of all stakeholders. The impact of climate change poses a significant threat to water supply and quality. Therefore, we must adopt a collaborative approach to ensure the resilience and sustainability of our water systems. Our collective effort is the key to securing a safe water future.

This statement serves as a reminder of how crucial it is to be environmentally aware and take collective action to tackle the challenges of climate change. It calls on individuals, communities, and governments to work together with nature to ensure a sustainable planet for all.

Let’s take advantage of this moment to reaffirm our dedication to protecting the environment and promoting policies encouraging transparency in managing water resources. We can safeguard our planet for future generations by coming together and having open conversations.

Let’s work together to build a world where every drop of water is valued and every community has a say in the decisions that shape their environment. On Mother Earth Day, we pledge to unite and strive for a transparent, equitable, and sustainable future.

By: Melusi Simelane
Civic Rights Programme Manager