Bushmen make a splash on World Water Day

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For the first time in ten years, Botswana’s Bushmen are celebrating World Water Day as they enjoy unobstructed access to the life-giving substance.

Their main desert well was capped shut by the government in 2002 in an effort to move the tribe off their ancestral land to make way for diamond mining.

However, a long and sustained campaign by Survival and the Bushmen means they are now free to drink and wash, while the world celebrates the importance of water.

Watch a recent video of Bushmen and their livestock using the well here:

Visiting the wellAfter 10 years of fighting for their right to stay on their land and have access to water, the Bushmen of Mothomelo are using their new well. © D. Rousseau/F. Badaire/AITV

Last September, a new well was dug at Mothomelo in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by the non-profit organization Vox United.

It was a significant breakthrough for a community denied the fundamental right to water, even though they won a landmark court case to return to their land in 2006.

Despite the magnitude of the trial, it took a further five years, and another court case, for the Bushmen to be legally given the right to access the water on their land.

Bushman spokesman Jumanda Gakelebone said to Survival, ‘We think, as everyone knows, that water is an important thing for human life. The Mothomelo borehole has changed lives in the CKGR. Old and young people no longer have to walk long distances to get water. We are very happy and thank all the people who helped make it possible.’

Qoroxloo Duxee died of dehydration after the borehole was disabled.
Qoroxloo Duxee died of dehydration after the borehole was disabled.
© Survival International

Survival continues to work to ensure the rights of the Bushmen are respected and supports ongoing efforts to open more wells in the reserve.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘It is a triumph that the Bushmen are able to join the world in celebrating the importance of water this year. Yes, there are still other communities in the reserve who need better access to water, but it is also very important to celebrate the historic achievements made in securing the Bushmen’s rights to their ancestral land.’

Note to Editors:

UN World Water Day 2012 is on March 22.