Provide food & water to 260 San People in Botswana

by First Peoples Worldwide
At the campfire
At the campfire

This has been a long time coming.  Early in 2012 we sent our board member Jim Brumm to Botswana to deliver food and water, and drill a well, now that the San had won water rights.  Jim found that many of the local NGO's that were working with the San had dissolved and the San, after winning their court battles were still in poor conditions.  First Peoples covered the costs associated with that trip (a little over $6,000) and used $1,500 worth of the donation funding from Global Giving for food and water delivery.

When Jim returned we felt that in order to truly help the San we needed to spend a bit more time with them, so we sent a First Peoples field correspondent, Katie Cheney.  Katie left for Botswana on October 19th and will be remaining there until November 19th. Because of the unforeseen issues around obtaining permissions to enter the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which is where many San reside, and the issues around obtaining a permit to deliver needed supplies we felt that we needed to begin a much longer term relationship with the San and with the Botswana Government. It is unfortunate but without the consent of the government any aid work is almost impossible.

Katie has a list of meetings she has attended with government officials – some with very good outcomes and some with less than good outcomes. She has had very limited internet connectivity but has sent us a great blog post which I am sharing. More to come once Katie returns.


First Peoples Worldwide, and myself, Neva Adamson would like to apologize for the long period of silence regarding our food and water delivery project to the San peoples of the Kalahari.  First Peoples Worldwide has pretty much given up on getting a response from the Botswana government, but we have not given up on the project. We have never met a roadblock, government, or any other challenge we have not been able to creatively navigate and successfully implement our project.  This is no different.  A few months ago we began in-house discussions how to help the San and circumvent the government stalling.   


Earlier this year we reported that the San won water rights, which was a well-earned victory for them.  This gave them the right to re-commission and sink (drill) new boreholes (wells).  While waiting to hear back from the government and in light of their victory First Peoples began to look for at creative ways to help the San without going through the government permit process, which was becoming increasingly apparent wasn’t going to be granted.  It is time for us to change our strategy.  Instead of a food and water delivery project we will be doing a borehole project, a few factors went into this decision.  We wont need the permits from the government, it is way more sustainable than our original project, which we knew wasn’t sustainable but we also realized the dire need in our communities, and so ultimately this project will provide lasting solutions for our communities.


I have been working with several San community members who have informed me that Gem Diamonds (a large mine in Botswana) provided funding for sinking new boreholes.  The problem is this funding was provided seemingly without the additional support to ensure the boreholes would be successful.  My contact shared with me that three of the four boreholes drilled were salt water, and therefore unusable.   With that knowledge in hand, and our full budget from your donations to GlobalGiving being nearly doubled because First Peoples is matching your donations we will be visiting Botswana in February.


We are sending Jim Brumm an esteemed board member for First Peoples to oversee this project.   But we have some groundwork to do before his trip.   Currently we are partnering with Blue Planet so that First Peoples can ensure before we get to Botswana that we avoid the current unsuccessful projects that were recently implemented.  We are working with hydrologists to ensure that borehole drilling is the best solution for the San, and not another solution like water catchment, we are reading all the hydrology reports done on Botswana, most specifically the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, where we intend to drill, and working with on the ground engineers to avoid the salt-water boreholes.  Since First Peoples’ primary focus is Indigenous Peoples we felt to strengthen and ensure the success of this project that we should partner with an organization whose primary focus is water, and Blue Planet fit that bill.


As we move forward with our research and trip this February we will keep you posted as to our progress.  We want to thank you for your support to the San and look forward to continuing to share our progress.


If you are not satisfied with your donation to this project and would like to allocate your donation to another GlobalGiving project please contact Alexis Nadin at

Alright everyone, this has been a long process on getting this project off the ground.  We have been working with local organizations and the Botswana government to ensure that we purchase the most needed supplies, as well as have the proper permits to do the food and water delivery project to the San communities.  In October I was set to head off to Botswana to be in the field helping with the project as well as collecting stories from the community and to share with the community all of the kindness of all of our supporters (that is all of you). 

As you might have guessed I did not head out in October like I had planned, we were told that the government had denied the permits to our project.  First Peoples immediately got on the phone and began calling and emailing the Botswana government to figure out why, and if this was a mistake.  We think that we got caught in a bureaucratic arm of the government.   The government has been fairly responsive with a quick turnaround and all signs are pointing to a positive outcome. 

I am currently waiting on word from the Botswana government on how to proceed.  As soon as we receive approval I will be on a plane to provide food and water (and First Peoples will be donating many many many pairs of new shoes – hope the over the weight baggage fee can be waived).  As soon as I get word from the government I will post on global giving that I am on my way!

Thank you for your generous support – I am aware that they are so many good causes and projects occurring on global giving and throughout the world.  And I wish all of us (those who do the work, give to the work, and are recipients of the work) success in making change that really matters!  May everyone have a wonderful 2011!!!

The San have inhabited the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) since time immemorial, tracing back approximately 40,000 years as the oldest hunting and gathering society known to man. They are keepers of traditional wisdom and knowledge and were unjustly evicted from their homes in Botswana's CKGR. In 2006, the San regained their rights to live on and use their land. Although the San have begun to return to their homelands, they are now being denied access to the water that flows beneath it.

The situation of the San has not improved, but in fact has become increasingly dire. The San applied for a permit to drill a borehole that would give them water access, but were denied by the Botswana High Court on July 21, 2010. We are again working with a local partner and, in September, First Peoples Worldwide’s Managing Director, Neva Adamson, will travel to Botswana to help deliver food and water to the San. Please note 100% of your donations will go directly to the San community. Staff travel is funded from an account independent of our program work. While we realize that this is not a sustainable solution, it is one that is necessary right now while we work with the Government of Botswana to enforce the High Court ruling of allowing the San to return to their land and allowing access to food and water.

Staff at Kuru (an umbrella for local CKGR San organizations) recently met with council officials of the social and community department. While some food rations are being distributed by this department, the issue of water continues to be of serious concern. Because of the difficulties involved in delivering water – the rough terrain and the lack of total sustainability involved – there is discussion of drilling a borehole for the communities inside the CKGR to create a more sustainable and accessible water source. We will continue to post updates about this possibility as they become available.


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Organization Information

First Peoples Worldwide

Location: Fredericksburg, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Neva Adamson
Managing Director
Fredericksburg, VA United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 189 donors like you, a total of $8,625 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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