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Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR)
Ministers look to Trans-Boundary river resources for better ...
25/04/12
Ministers look to Trans-Boundary river resources for better livelihoods

Government Ministers from multiple sectors are meeting this week in Gaborone to consider a programme that promises to use the unique natural resources of the Cubango-Okavango river basin for the greater benefit of people living in the basin and for Botswana as a whole.
Developed by the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Development and Management of the Cubango-Okavango Basin (SAP) aims to guide the three countries sharing the river system Angola, Botswana and Namibia in implementing joint projects that improve the livelihoods of basin communities and protect the rich biodiversity of the basin.

OKACOM developed the programme through a combination of research and consultation, supported by the Global Environment Facility through the United Nations Development Programme and the FAO. Several years of intensive study by regional scientists produced the Cubango-Okavango River Basin Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) that provided the Commission with the best available knowledge about social, economic and environmental conditions in the basin. Then a series of consultative meetings in the three countries highlighted the concerns of people and organisations dependant on the river system’s water, wildlife and ecology. These consultations produced cross-cutting National Action Plans (NAP) aligned to national planning and development processes. In Botswana, the NAP complements District Development Plan 7, NDP10 and the Okavango Delta Management Plan.

OKACOM believes that, acting on these findings, the three countries could set a standard for sustainable development in the region and globally, planning developments that being new benefits to people while retaining those already enjoyed.

The proposed work programme for the SAP includes activities that foster sustainable livelihoods for people living in the basin. For example, OKACOM is collaborating through the USAID SAREP programme to assist 22 basin communities with improved access to water and sanitation, and to build the capacity of people in these communities to effectively manage the natural resources they depend on.

OKACOM Co-Chairperson for Botswana, Mr Boikobo Paya, explains: “While water is important in management of the basin, we now think about the full range of resources and benefits offered by the river system, and about the advantages of combining our efforts across political boundaries to make sure we get the best possible return on investment. That is why we are inviting Ministers from across many sectors to consider how the SAP can help them meet their goals for economic empowerment and healthy living.”
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OKACOM was formed in 1994 by Angola, Botswana and Namibia to promote coordinated and environmentally sustainable regional water resources development, while addressing the legitimate social and economic needs of each of the riparian states.

For more information, contact Tracy Molefi, 365-6670/6665.

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