The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) Commissioners last week launched the OKACOM Secretariat in Maun.
The Secretariat is an internal organ of OKACOM which will help it to discharge the functions entrusted to it effectively.
This Secretariat is expected to provide administrative support, financial and coordinative service as well as to facilitate enhanced information sharing and communication at the global, regional and national level.
The OKACOM Secretariat office is located at the offices of the Department of Environment Affairs, which are also the former home of the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) project in Maun.
Headed by an internationally recruited Executive Secretary, Dr Ebenizario Chonguica, this organ will also be instrumental in providing logistical coordination.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Sweden, First Secretary at the Swedish Embassy, Maputo and Regional Coordinator, Therese Magnusson, said that the signing of Agreements between Sweden and OKACOM on the establishment of a Secretariat in May last year, was a true token of the commitment from the three states.
“These three countries, namely Angola, Botswana and Namibia, strengthened the peaceful cooperation on the shared water resources, managed and developed the water resources jointly and thereby also improving the livelihood of people living in the basin,” she explained.
Magnusson said states which share water resources, be it river, lake or underground aquifers, are in some way linked together in a complex system of interdependence, covering spheres of economic, environmental policies, politics and security. She said Sweden commends the efforts to OKACOM to manage the river basin as a single unit and to set up appropriate governance structures.
She pointed out that supporting the OKACOM to establish this Secretariat, fulfils the highest priority according to the Swedish strategy for regional development cooperation with Africa.
“Sweden believes that trans-boundary, integrated cooperation with broad stakeholder participation will contribute to attaining the goals of equitable, sustainable and efficient use of the water resources for the good of the people in the basin.”
Acknowledging the collaboration between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Magnusson said this kind of joint action is in line with the spirit of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and the Windhoek Declaration, and as such she believed it would serve as a good example.
She appealed to these three countries to work together so as to successfully manage and coordinate the development within the Basin.