Diamond mine on Bushman land gets government approval – on condition Bushmen receive no water

Bushman women, Namibia
Bushman women, Namibia
© Mark Hakansson/Survival

The Botswana government has given its approval to a controversial diamond mine on the land of the Kalahari Bushmen – on the condition that the mining company Gem Diamonds does not provide the Bushmen with water. The government has, however, reserved the right to use water boreholes drilled by Gem for wildlife.

The government has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment presented by Gem Diamonds for its proposed mine.

The Bushmen living in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve face severe water shortages. The government has banned them from operating a disused borehole which was their main source of water before the government unlawfully evicted them from their land.

Gem Diamonds claims that the Bushmen are in favour of the mine, but the Bushmen have had no independent advice on its probable impact.

A consulting firm visited the Bushmen earlier this year, supposedly to obtain their views on diamond mining on their land. The company’s project manager joined the board of Gem Diamonds soon after the project ended, calling the impartiality of the consultation process into serious question.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘It’s absolutely scandalous that the Botswana government is insisting that Gem Diamonds does not provide the Bushmen with water. The government is clearly determined to go to any lengths to keep the Bushmen off their land. As to whether the Bushmen are in favour of the mine – the lack of information provided to them means they are in no position to be able to say. It is likely that they don’t even know they will not be able to access water from the mine site.’

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]