Friday, October 30, 2020

Preservation of the Okavango basin under spotlight

Maun: The government pulled out its highest ranking officials to help to conclude negotiations at the weekend towards a programme for the establishment of a secretariat in Maun that would administer programmes of the tri-nation commission established to look after water resources of the Okavango.

The Permanent Secretary at Water Affairs, Tombale, stayed until Friday at the end of a five day USAID-sponsored meeting to wrap up work that started with a meeting of the technical committee of the project on Monday.

That was followed by two days of a review of progress on investigations into the environmental aspects of the three nation – Botswana, Namibia and Angola – water plan for the Okavango basin, and creation of a strategic action progamme.

There was need for rehabilitation of the monitoring mechanisms of water flows in Angola that feed into the Okavango. Monitoring was made difficult by the civil war there.

According to Tombale, Botswana undertakes to house the Maun secretariat largely because of the importance of securing a sustainable plan for the preservation of the Okavango basin which is also an international tourism attraction.

Botswana will sponsor the office of the secretariat to the tune of about P2 million annually. On Wednesday, the Swedish and Botswana governments signed a hosting agreement, extending over the next three years, in order to facilitate the work of the commission.

The Swedes have also assisted with the ‘Every River Has Its people Project’, coordinated by the Kalahari Conservation Society (Botswana). That project seeks to promote consultation between the communities of the three countries who want to benefit from water, agriculture, fishing and other developments along the river. It is expected to run for five years and it has now entered its second phase.

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