Gina D'Alesandro (USA '17) conducted her thesis research in Namibia. The aim of her research was to understand and draw out the livelihood options and limitations on the ground for the two tribes of the Kavango East region around Bwabwata National Park, one a farming Bantu tribe, the Hambukushu, and the other an indigenous bushman tribe called the Khwe, a people who only a generation ago subsided entirely off of the bush foods and animals of the area.
The region itself, a low population and low development area, is rich in water resources from the nearby Okavango River, a river which flows from Angola and empties into the basin's Delta in Botswana. Despite such large potential to develop due to rich resources, little development has been done off of this river. This, however, due largely to political stability in the region and growing population and economic potential, is expected by policymakers and governments of the Okavango River Basin member countries, is expected to change.
Gina's project, working in tandem with larger basin-level development and water infrastructure projects looking to create sustainable development water management plans for the Basin, aims to highlight issues of climate change pressures and political limitations for the livelihoods of the two tribes living along this specific part of the basin in the form of a case study drawing attention to sustainable livelihoods options and projects being created in the region to address conservation needs for the wildlife and sustainable livelihood development options for the people."
Gina explains that she is very excited about her work, and is staying longer in the area to learn more about local initiatives and participate in ongoing projects. Gina previously spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer working in Zambia, and hopes to continue working in the region in the future.