An institutional framework for the sustainable co-existence of tourism and agriculture in Botswana
Mogomotsi, Patricia Kefilwe
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The tourism industry has been identified as an industry to diversify the economy away from capital-intensive and vulnerable diamond mining sector. In Botswana, the industry is mainly concentrated around the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is endowed with a vast variety of natural resources. The area is thus home for many tourism facilities, and thriving businesses for many engaged in the tourism industry, be it individuals and multinational corporations. However, there seems to be a dichotomy between the considerable presence of the tourism industry in this area and the benefit of individual households from tourism. The sector has largely failed to make significant contributions to rural development in Botswana, particularly in the Okavango Delta where it is concentrated. The failure is attributed to factors such as the weak linkages of tourism with the domestic economy, and the conflict between tourism and the agricultural sector. Generally, the Okavango Delta has experienced negative natural resource dynamics, increasing competition and conflict over natural resources, biodiversity loss and some cases of natural resource depletion. There is an imminent need to develop and implement approaches to ensure the balance between conservation of natural resources in and around the Okavango Delta and sustainable use of resources for socio-economic benefits of rural communities in the delta in the midst of inherent conflicts. The attainment of a mutually beneficial balance is dependent on the establishment of quick access and occupancy rights and the creation of a robust institutional environment with the core aim of helping to attain sustainable land use. The aim of this study is, therefore, to develop and propose a sustainable institutional framework that will allow for the coexistence of both tourism and agriculture in Botswana, using the Okavango Delta as a case study. The study adopted frameworks of two bodies of knowledge, namely; the New Institutional Economics (NIE) and sustainable tourism theories. Through literature, this study made a distinction between 'institutions' and organisations. Essentially, institutions are rules of the game while organisations as players of or in the game played. This study adopts the ‘rule of the game definition of institutions and defines organisations as structural, institutional arrangements that serve as a framework for structuring relational actions between agents. Veblen, Commons and other old institutional economists refined economic analysis by incorporating institutions and institutional change arguments within the economics discipline. While Veblen and other old institutional economists succeed in redefining efficiency in the context of transaction costs reduction, their discipline displayed some weaknesses. The old institutional economics lacked systematic and rigorous theoretical foundations. The NIE emerged as an attempt to incorporate institutional analysis into mainstream economics by systematically operationalising the insights of neoclassical economics. The conventional, sustainable development paradigm encompasses economic, environmental or ecological, and social and cultural dimensions. The interaction of the three pillars is often referred to as the TBL framework of sustainability. However, several studies have argued that the failure to acknowledge the importance of the fourth dimension of institutional sustainability is likely to contribute to the failure to achieve the other three dimensions. Institutional sustainability emphasises participatory decision-making processes and public involvement in natural resources management processes. An enabling institutional environment is hence necessary for strategically linking to the agricultural sector to enhance synergies, as well as to improve the contribution of the sector in agrarian communities. This study uses both secondary and primary data sources to analyse the institutions that influence the existence and the relationship between tourism and agriculture in the Okavango Delta, to determine the current economic benefits of tourism to local subsistence farmers in the rural Okavango Delta and to analyse the conflict and coexistence of agriculture and tourism in the Okavango Delta. The literature study and document analysis in this study depended on a systematic reviewing technique. Villages reflective of natural resource conflict and coexistence were identified from literature sources and through site visits in July 2017. Subsequently, four villages were conveniently sampled. These four villages are Shorobe, Matsaudi, Gumare and Shakawe. Eighteen (18) key informants with knowledge on land use conflicts and the socio-economic issues reflecting tensions between agriculture and tourism in the Okavango Delta were selected using expertise-oriented approach. Moreover, four focus groups were held, one in each village. A total of 221 randomly selected farming households responded with a rate of 96.1%. The study finds that post-independence, the institutional framework governing the country's land resources is a combination of common and customary laws. Therefore, there is an interactive relation between formal and informal institutions in the country. Despite the generally good intentions of land management institutions and the accommodative land tenure systems that aim to contribute to good land use management, the reality is land use issues are still marred with challenges. The study concludes that the changing institutional landscape of natural resources management imposed trade-offs between land uses, sustainability goals and ecosystem services. The institutions oscillate between promoting coexistence and igniting conflicts between agrarian communities and contemporary land uses, primarily conservation and tourism. The study further concludes that economic benefits derived by the farmers through employment are generally low. Furthermore, there are low and weak linkages of tourism with local small-scale farmers in the region. Based on these findings, this study recommends viable and sustainable conceptual frameworks for creating a mutually inclusive environment for the economic growth of both tourism and agriculture in the Okavango Delta. The first frameworks aim at promoting the linkages between tourism and agriculture, while the second conceptual framework proposes a sustainable institutional environment premised on four key activities, which are a continuous process.