From Humble Beginning to Prosperity: Processes and Successes of Building Resilient Communities (Etsha Villages) Botswana Christian Council

From Humble Beginning to Prosperity: Processes and Successes of Building Resilient Communities (Etsha Villages) Botswana Christian Council

Dama Mosweunyane (University of Botswana, Botswana) and Cheneso Bolden Montsho (University of Botswana, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8568-0.ch005
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This chapter examines the role that the Botswana Christian council served to empower the marginalised population of Etsha villages. A distinctive feature of the empowerment processes in this case was a ‘collective and inclusive' principle. Collectiveness and inclusiveness implies that people at the grassroots levels were actively involved. Perhaps this involvement was particularly facilitated by the fact that the villagers used what they were familiar with, natural resources and indigenous expertise. This project constituted a major strategy for promoting sustainable development and empowering local communities to make use of local resources for their economic empowerment. Indeed, the case illustrated that the Etsha villages' transformation/empowerment was realised through this project. They attracted monetary rewards from their production of handicrafts and services offered through the museum. These villages gained not only economically, they even transformed the processes of decision-making, which is one of the key aspects of political empowerment.
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Background To The Botswana Christian Council

The Botswana Christian council (BCC) is a non-profit making religious organisation, which is a longstanding partner of Global Ministries and is affiliated to the World Council of Churches. It was founded in 1966 and had 35 member churches and Christian organizations, which constitutes most of the churches in Botswana. As noted by BCC (1983) in 1966 on the 21st May four churches – Anglican, London Missionary Society (UCCSA) Methodist and United Free Church of Scotland met for the first time to inaugurate the council of churches in Botswana.

The Botswana Christian Council is committed to the principles of equality, justice and peace, which can be attributed to its participation in advocacy and development work. Although the Council started as a purely theological entity with few members, it has since broadened its scope and the membership has risen and continues growing across the country. Its portfolio of programs includes political education, information, youth work, children, refugee work and other issues relevant to women's status. It is this commitment that has led the BCC to get involved in community development work in Etsha villages in the Okavango area, which are made up of people who are refugees from Angola. It is important to note that BCC has been concerned with the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Botswana in their attempt to find a place of refuge from their own countries (Amanze, n.d.). The involvement of BCC with the villages of Etsha did not end when refugees were welcomed to settle in Botswana, but continued chiefly to meet their spiritual requirements.

The Botswana Christian Council started projects that were aimed at meeting the economic and social exigencies of the communities when it became clear that the communities also required realising some economic and political engagements. This explains why besides the running of a church in Etsha villages, the BBC also engaged in a literacy programme, basketry, brick moulding, craft shop, museum and the running of guest houses that provide accommodation to the tourists. These projects are meant to empower the communities so that they can be self-reliant and not depend entirely on the government and Non-Governmental organisations (Amanze, n.d.).

Due to the prominent role it has played in issues concerning the poor and other disadvantaged groups in Botswana since 1966, BCC has in practice been used informally by many other NGO's, both national and international, to seek information and help during disasters. It consistently receives requests from the public in general to assist on various aspects of need, which are meant to ameliorate the living conditions of the poor. The Botswana Christian Council is committed to serving people of Etsha 1 to 13 with Etsha 6 being the headquarters where most activities are executed.

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