Terres et eaux

Environmental protection and sustainable management of the Okavango river basin

The Okavango River Basin (ORB) remains one of the least human impacted basins on the African continent.

Mounting socio-economic pressures on the basin in the riparian countries, Angola, Botswana and Namibia, threaten to change its present character. It is anticipated that in the long term this may result in irretrievable environmental breakdown and consequent loss of domestic and global benefits. Maintaining these benefits requires agreement over the sharing of both the benefits and associated liabilities (to include those of an environmental and ecological nature) through joint management of the basin's water resources.

The 1994 OKACOM Agreement, 1995 SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems and the 1997 UN Convention on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses provided a framework for such an agreement. Under the OKACOM Agreement, the riparian countries have worked toward the implementation of an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the basin on the basis of an Environmental Assessment (EA). Stage I GEF support was to enable the formulation of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP). This was the current 3-year stage as expressed in this Brief. The Strategic Action Programme formulation involved as an early activity, completion of the draft transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA) and launched policy initiatives to enable implementation of the Environmental Analysis (EA) and the Integrated management Plan (IMP) in all riparian countries. The Strategic Action Programme structured inputs and identified the resources necessary for the implementation of the transboundary elements of the EA and the IMP. Subsequently, stage II of GEF supported the implementation of the SAP.

The Strategic Action Programme included necessary baseline and additional actions to address the priority transboundary issues and provide an essential monitoring and evaluation tool for implementation. The project provided for a process of formal endorsement of the SAP by the participating governments, support to the translation of SAP provisions into national policy and legislation, and the mobilization of institutional and investment resources for its implementation.