Prospects of basket production in promoting sustainable rural livelihoods in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons, http://www.wiley.com
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This paper uses the concept of sustainable rural livelihoods and income diversification to assess the role that basket making as a cultural tourism activity can play in improving rural livelihoods in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Using both primary and secondary data sources, this paper points out that shocks and natural causes such as drought, disease and changing flood levels in the Okavango River, particularly the drying of the Thaoge (one of the distributaries of the Okavango), have contributed to a decline in livestock and crop yields and increased poverty levels in the region. Therefore, alternative livelihood options that can diversify rural incomes from agricultural production need to be identified. This paper argues that basket making has the potential to diversify rural incomes and improve livelihoods in the Okavango. Baskets are a cultural tourism product that can raise income earning and employment opportunities for rural residents in the Okavango. For this to be successful, basket making will need to be developed as part of cultural tourism. A sustainable cultural tourism sector where baskets are key products requires the sustainable use of natural resources used for basket making. These resources are at present overharvested and are threatened with depletion. There is also a need to promote the empowerment of basket weavers particularly in entrepreneurship and managerial skills in the tourism business, attract young and educated people and promote the preservation of traditional basket making skills, which are important in the development of cultural tourism.
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