By Prof Hillary Masundire, Botswana Focal Point, University of Botswana
Photo credit: Gina Ziervogel
Miss Lerato Sebola is the Assistant District Commissioner stationed at Bobonong, the headquarters of the Bobirwa sub-district where ASSAR is working in Botswana. This rather diminutive lady is indeed like the proverbial 'dynamite comes in small packages'! She has seen ASSAR right from the beginning in December 2013 to date.
I first met Mma Sebola in December 2013 when I went to introduce the ASSAR project. She received the ASSAR delegation, comprising Kaona Moloko and myself, and made sure we saw all the key personnel including the tribal authorities, the district administration staff, the sub-district council as well as heads of government departments based in the sub-district. This first visit was critical to all the subsequent ASSAR activities in the sub-district.
“I have worked with Mma Sebola from my first entry into the Bobirwa community and she has been there, with and for us, all the time.” – Hillary Masundire
In January 2014, a large ASSAR team comprising University of Botswana (UB) and University of Cape Town (UCT) team members went for the launch of the ASSAR project. Mma Sebola ably organised meetings with all the chiefs and headmen in Bobirwa, as well as with key government officers. ASSAR was afforded the opportunity to address the community at a traditional 'Kgotla' meeting, attended by over 200 people. These are the meetings that helped us to get an idea of the people’s perceptions on climate change as well as what they perceive as manifestations of the impacts of climate change.
In 2015, the ASSAR team organised a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) workshop in Bobonong. As usual, Mma Sebola worked tirelessly to ensure that our VRA workshop was of the highest quality, for example through identifying the VRA Knowledge Group. Mma Sebola then worked, and continues to work with yet another champion, Mma Moepeng, the Senior Assistant Council Secretary.
In 2016, Mma Sebola headed a delegation from Bobirwa to Gaborone to take part in a Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) training workshop.
We are about to launch the household survey and TSP in Bobirwa. With Mma Sebola as a friend of ASSAR, success in these activities is virtually guaranteed.
“ASSAR has capacitated the community and key stakeholders in Bobirwa area on issues related to climate change, vulnerability and adaptation."– Lerato Sebola
In January, we plan to have a VRA training workshop for district development officers and district economic planners, following the successful Bobonong VRA workshop. We will rely on Mma Sebola to motivate and mobilise other districts to see value in the VRA process as a planning tool for district and sub-district level development planning and implementation.
ASSAR has been blessed to have someone like Mma Sebola, who has remained in the project area from its inception. Thank you Mma Sebola – our ASSAR Champion in Botswana.