Programs > Water Management > Transboundary IWRM > Sharing Water: Transboundary Management of the Okavango River

Sharing Water: Transboundary Management of the Okavango River

One of the last undeveloped rivers in the world, the Okavango River drops from its headwaters in Angola, crosses Namibia's Caprivi Strip, and then floods the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, creating the largest and most biologically rich inland Delta in the world. This pristine environment is home to myriad species of animals and plants that have escaped the impact of modern industrial and municipal human development.

Yet the three basin states — Angola, Namibia, and Botswana — face pressing developmental needs that place demands on the fragile river environment, making it critical that they develop an integrated basin plan to ensure a sustainable future for the basin.

Sharing Water: Towards a Transboundary Consensus on Management of the Okavango/Cubango River Basin was an NHI initiative that offered stakeholders a platform for negotiation about water and related ecological resources. The project was designed to integrate both local and national development needs, as well as the uncertainties associated with management of a highly variable system. Our approach built the commitment and knowledge base needed to manage this complex basin. Project objectives included:

  • Promoting joint fact-finding through development of a Shared Okavango/Cubango Data Base and a transparent decision-making model of the basin;
  • Broadening stakeholder participation in the OKACOM planning process, particularly for Angolan water managers and stakeholders; and
  • Building regional capacity to analyze complex scenarios and work towards a consensus decision.

NHI collaborated with a project team including: the World Conservation Union's Regional Office for Southern Africa; Juventude Ecologica Angolana and ACADIR in Angola; IUCN Botswana Office; Namibia Nature Foundation; the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Center in Botswana; the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; the African Water Issues Resources Unit at the University of Pretoria in South Africa; and CONCUR in the United States. Funding was provided by the United States Agency for International Development Regional Office for Southern Africa (USAID/RCSA).

Contact: Elizabeth Soderstrom

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