The 2018 edition of the annual Desert Bush Walk-Winter is slated to take place this Saturday in Jwaneng. The event is in the fourth year running.
Preparations according to organisers are at an advanced stage. Bringing the media up to speed about preparations during a media briefing that was held on Monday morning in Gaborone, the organisers informed the media that all that they were waiting for was for the 3000 walkers from Botswana and neighbouring countries to arrive in Jwaneng.
Two cabinet ministers, Thapelo Olopeng of Youth, Sports and Culture Development and Alfred Madigele of Health and Wellness will grace the walk alongside other walkers. This year, the guest walker will be the Lesotho Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sport and Culture, T Seoka. The organisers had targeted 2500 walkers (1800 for 30 KM and 700 for 15KM), and the target has been reached.
Speaking during the media briefing, Board Chairperson, Archibald Ngakayagae explained that every year both the local organizing committee and the board take part in a process of evaluation. This, he says, is done in order to note the challenges and come with interventions to all issues raised during the process. The 2017 evaluation process has seen a couple of changes and developments within the event such as the changes in the route. The 10KM walk has been increased to 15KM, following feedback from participants.
The other change has been the reduction of refreshment points from the intervals of 5KM to 10KM.
“This means that for the 15KM category, we are only going to have 1 water point at 10KM while on 30KM category we are going to have water points at 10KM, 20KM, and a mini refill at 25KM,” he explained noting that they wanted to curb the problem of littering.
He also explained that this year they would provide dustbins at the water points and have requested the Jwaneng Town Council to assist with litter picking along the route.
Another change worth noting, he says is the fact that the two categories will start at different times. The 30km walkers will depart at 0640HRS, while the 15KM will start at 0650HRS. “This is in order to reduce congestion at the starting point,” says Ngakayagae.
Ngakagae also revealed that they have finally been recognized as one of Botswana’s national events, and were added to the national list of events by Botswana Tourism Organisation.
However, every year, the committee continues to face a number of challenges, and these include lack of buy in and support from local authorities including beneficiaries.
Other challenges include shortages of resources during the build up to the event, during the walk and after the event. “These resources include lack of rescue motor vehicles, and personnel, vehicles to use to run errands, shortage of facilities and manpower. We are still appealing to partners on the matter to assist,” he says.
Organisers are also struggling with the registration of participants. In future, Ngakayagae explains that they hope to develop/purchase an online registration software.
Sponsors for 2018 include Mokala lodge, MRI, Patmo Transport, Liberty Life, Botswana Savings Bank, BTCL, BAMB, Letshego, Botswana Guardian, Sunday Standard, Carly Clothing, Duma Fm, Botswana Oil, Puma Energy, Majwe Mining, Masteka Printing, Pick n Pay (Jwaneng), webtickets, Engen Lobatse, NT4 Engineering, as well as Davebouy Worx.