The University of Botswana through the Okavango Research Institute (ORI) and Botswana Wild Bird Trust (BWBT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build scientific capacity and promote conservation of the natural resources of the Okavango River Basin in general especially the Okavango Delta.
The MoU was signed on April 15, 2019 at the University of Botswana. Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, signed on behalf of UB while National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project Director, Mr John Hilton signed for BWBT.
It is through this MoU that two Batswana students will be awarded PhD bursaries to research various elements of the Okavango River Basin wetlands and the surrounding ecosystem. The students will be jointly supervised by UB and BWBT.
Founded in 2009 in South Africa, Wild Bird Trust expanded to Botswana in 2016 to establish BWBT which has partnered with ORI to support the implementation of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP).
The primary aim of the collaboration is to promote the mutual efforts of both organisations in conserving the Okavango Delta, and the greater Okavango River Basin through the sharing of data and expertise and by keeping each other informed of important developments and opportunities related to the Basin.
Most notably is that as part of the capacity building efforts of the BWBT for the NGOWP it will be working with UB-ORI to fund up to two Batswana PhD students with topics linked to the scientific and research objectives of the NGOWP.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Professor Norris the awarding of the two bursaries demonstrated BWBT and National Geographic Society commitment to collaborating with UB on research.
BWBT has partnered with National Geographic Society to establish the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project and Professor Norris said he was elated that the two organisations had reached out to UB through ORI as a partner in the project.
“On behalf of the University of Botswana community, I sincerely thank John Milton and his team at Botswana Wild Bird Trust for picking University of Botswana and particularly the Okavango Research Institute for this exciting collaboration,” he added.
The Vice Chancellor said ORI’s multi-disciplinary nature with its emphasis on the sustainable use and development of the Okavango River Basin not only made the institute a highly valued facility within the University but it was also a glowing beacon for international research collaboration.
In response, Mr Hilton explained the mandate of BWBT and noted that the signing of the MoU would cement relations with UB since collaboration with ORI started in 2017. Mr Hilton added that the MoU also was in recognition of the importance they attached to the collaboration between ORI and BWBT.
Office for Research and Development Director, Professor Graham Hall, described the collaboration between ORI and BWBT as remarkable and that they were looking forward to good things to come.