European Union (EU) and the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) on Wednesday signed a 1.65 million euros grant to support the transboundary water management in the Cubango-Okavango River Basin, in Gaborone, capital of Botswana.
The Cubango-Okavango river system, rising in Angola and flowing through Namibia to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, is one of the world’s few remaining naturally clean water resources.
The river’s presence in the dry sands of the Kalahari is highly valued by the three countries, which established the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) in 1994 to advise the member states on how best to share and manage this unique resource.
Speaking at the ceremony, Alexander Baum, EU Ambassador to Botswana, said the EU, Namibia, Angola, Botswana and the OKACOM Secretariat have been working hard to ensure that the four partners can work together in the next three years to ensure a sound management of the Okavango river basin.
In order to help the three countries achieve this ideal, the EU is funding a program to enable the OKACOM to acquire the tools and capacity to collect and manage data related to surface and ground water resources, water quality and sedimentation.
The program will provide the tools, including monitoring stations, and build the capacity of the institutions for monitoring. This regional project is one among many others that EU is supporting.
“The river provides significant ecosystem benefits and will continue to do so if managed appropriately,” Baum said.
He also said potential trans-boundary impacts and conflicting interests can best be solved by cooperation, adequate legal and institutional frameworks, joint approaches to planning and sharing of benefits and related costs.
He added that analytical work helps to unlock the potential for cooperation and to target and maximize investments.
The diplomat said this successful cooperation has ensured that the basin remains one of the least human-impacted river basins on the African continent.
It is ecologically unique and the Okavango Delta is of national, regional and global environmental and biodiversity value and importance, and has been recently added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Enditem