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2015-02-11 | Peer Reviewed

Partnerships between private sector ecotourism operators and local communities in the Okavango Delta, Botswana: A case study of the Okavango Community Trust and Wilderness Safaris partnership

. 2014. “Partnership between a private sector ecotourism operator and a local community in the Okavango Delta, Botswana: the case of the Okavango Community Trust and Wilderness Safaris.” Journal of Ecotourism 13:2-3: 110-127.
Download reference Doi:10.1080/14724049.2014.980744

The majority of Africa is characterised by high levels of poverty, high population densities and limited economic development. Botswana is, however, different in having the highest gross domestic product per capita in Africa, relatively low population densities and high levels of socio-economic development. Inequality, however, remains high. A community-based natural resource management programme was introduced in 1989 to ensure that local communities benefit from the country's abundant natural resources, with the hope that they will then protect them. Partnerships between the private sector and local communities evolved from this. Okavango Wilderness Safaris, a private sector ecotourism operator, has relationships with three community trusts: Okavango Community Trust (OCT), Sankuyo Community Development Trust and the Khwai Development Trust. This paper looks specifically at the partnership with the OCT. Based on ecotourism staff and non-staff interview results, an analysis of this relationship reveals that there are socio-economic benefits to be received, but the distribution of these is limited. Socio-economic benefits to individual community households can be substantial, but overall community benefit distribution needs to be reassessed. Overall socio-economic impacts of the partnership are examined and suggestions for enhancing private sector/community relationships are put forward, based on the interview results and personal observations.