The Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) on Friday donated information and publicity material on the Okavango Delta to the Department of Museums and National Monuments. SAREP, which operates under the auspices of USAID, donated information and publicity material which includes brochures in English, Setswana and Portuguese and a travelling exhibition. The material is expected to be used to raise awareness and gain support from countries and organizations affiliated to the World Heritage Committee since Botswana’s Okavango Delta has been nominated for listing as a World Heritage Site.
SAREP has been supporting and participating in workshops hosted by the Department of Museums and National Monuments of Botswana regarding the proposed listing and has also assisted with additional information and initiated processes to evaluate the proposed boundaries through a sensitivity analysis and adjust where required before the final submission.
Some of the notable activities that SAREP supported were a media seminar on the World Heritage Convention which was held on the 3rd – 4th September 2013 in Maun. Speaking at the Friday handing over which was held at the Main Gallery of the National Museum in Gaborone, SAREP Deputy Director Brian App said the Okavango Delta is the largest wetland and largest Ramsar Site in Southern Africa, covering over five and a half million hectares and almost 50 percent of Botswana’s Ngamiland District. “Working closely with the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), USAID has worked on a number of initiatives aimed at improving the management of the entire basin system while increasing benefits derived from it by the local residents”, App said. He also mentioned that they have worked closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs to review and update the Okavango Delta Management Olan (ODMP), and develop a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Delta to define ecological thresholds, providing a scientific and legal basis for the multi-sectoral implementation of the conservation and development initiatives.
“USAID, through its SAREP activity is proud to support Museums in this effort for the overdue World Heritage recognition of the Okavango Delta on the basis of Outstanding universal Values shown through its natural beauty, ecological processes and important wildlife”, App told his audience. App said the donation of information material will help inform people of the importance of the declaration and raise the profile of the process to ensure that it is a well-known and widely supported application. It is anticipated that the listing of the Delta as a world heritage site will significantly raise its international standing and help to protect the asset for future generations in Botswana and throughout the world.
When receiving the donation on behalf of Botswana government, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Neil Fitt said the donation has come at the right time to ensure that the Ministry’s intentions for listing the Okavango Delta as a World Heritage Site reach a greater audience which will contribute to the success of the ministry in this endeavor. Fitt said the nomination of the Okavango Delta as a World Heritage Site was initiated by his ministry in 2010 in fulfillment of Botswana’s obligations to the UNESCO 1972 Convention. He thanked SAREP for their good gesture and acknowledged them as a partner in different initiatives in the Sustainable Environment Sector.