Saturday, January 22, 2022

AFDB dumps Namibia-Angola agro project after threat to Okavango Delta

The African Development Bank (AFDB) has pulled out of an undertaking to fund the proposed agriculture project in Okavango river basin which was aimed at improving food security in Angola and Namibia.
This follows fears that the project has the potential to affect the inflow of water in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. 
The AFDB pulled out after heavy criticism against the project.
AFDB had said the purpose of the project was to improve food security in the two Okavango Basin states of Angola and Namibia.
Information reaching The Telegraph indicates that AFDB pulled out from the project at the time when the two countries were just about to submit feasibility studies on the project.
The Permanent Okavango River Water Commission Executive Secretary, Ebenizario Chonguica, told The Telegraph in an interview that the two countries had been advised to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
 He said that AFDB advised the two countries in 2000 that the agro-development project aimed at extracting water from the river which starts in Okavango could impact negatively on the inflow downstream.
The two countries were also made aware of Okavango Delta’s significance in tourism sector and other forms of heritage.
“Because this project was an agro project there was a possibility that there was going to be a lot of extraction of water in the mainstream which could impact on the inflow of water in Okavango Delta. They were supposed to submit EIA report to OKACOM in 2000 but there was never such a report that was given,” added Chonguica.
┬á“Environmental Impact Assessment should also address issues of trans-boundary implications to see the consequences of this in Namibia, Angola and the entire basin which includes the Okavango Delta. The EIA was needed because there was going to be┬áa lot of abstraction and the water quality was going to be compromised due ┬áto agro-chemicals that were to be used in those agro projects,” said Chonguica.
He said even though the project was supposed to address issues of food security it was equally important that an EIA was carried out since the three countries have a tripartite agreement on the use of water resources.
There are indications that Angola will want to unilaterally go ahead despite AFDB decision to withdraw funding.
He said AFDB is not aware whether Angola has gone ahead on its own but added it will be appropriate for the tripartite states to approve a project of this magnitude.
“In principle the project was to be undertaken in both countries but at last minute AFDB informed us that they were not going to fund the project in Namibia and it will be confined to Angola,” he said.
However, Port Wolski of the Okavango Research Project stated that the abstraction will affect the whole eco-system.
He said that the off-take of water will change the whole flow of water regime with the real danger of water arriving late in the delta.   He noted that the ecosystem will be affected and that there is a high possibility that some of the wet plains in the delta will get dry.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper