The Botswana Gazette reports that, “On January 17th, Botswana’s Court of Appeal will begin a hearing to decide whether Kalahari Bushmen living on their ancestral lands have the right to water. The Bushmen, who returned to their lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve after a previous court victory, are appealing against a 2010 High Court ruling that denied their right to access a well in the reserve they had used for decades. The 2010 ruling, which came a week before the UN formally recognized water as a fundamental human right, has been slammed by Africa’s key human rights body for denying the Bushmen’s ‘right to life’. Without the well, the Bushmen are forced to make arduous journeys by foot or donkey to fetch water from outside the reserve.”
“At the same time as banning the Bushmen from accessing water, the Botswana government has drilled new wells for wildlife in the reserve, and is due to give Gem Diamonds the go ahead to mine at one of the Bushman communities. It also allowed Wilderness Safaris to erect a luxury tourist lodge on Bushman land in the reserve, complete with bar and swimming pool for tourists. President Khama, whose nephew and personal lawyer sit on the board of directors of Wilderness Safaris, has previously described the Bushmen’s way of life as ‘an archaic fantasy’…”
At the time of the historic United Nations General Assembly vote in July 2010 on the recognition of the right to water and sanitation, according to UN notes, “The representative of Botswana said his delegation had been unable to vote in favour of the text in its present form, and voiced regret over the absence of consensus. The Geneva process should been given time to mature, and the work on water and sanitation should have continued under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, he added.”
A July 2010 campaign blog on the Kalahari Bushmen’s struggle for the right to water is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4279.
More from Survival International at http://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/bushmen/water#main.