ACWR - African Centre for Water Research

Legal, Policy and Strategy Analysis and Development

OKACOM/UNDP/GEF Environmental Protection and Sustainable Management of the Okavango (EPSMO)

The Okavango River Basin (ORB) remains one of the least human impacted basins on the African continent. Mounting socio-economic pressures in the riparian countries; Angola, Botswana and Namibia, threaten to change its present character. The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission therefore successfully solicited funds from the three governments and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and initiated the EPSMO Project.

The immediate objective of this project is to develop a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Okavango River Basin, an implementable programme of joint management to address threats to the basins linked land and water resources. In accordance with GEF methodology the development of the SAP will be informed by a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), a scientific and technical fact-finding analysis which seeks to identify the causal chains and root causes of problems affecting (or with the potential to affect) the integrity of the Okavango River Basin. The long-term objective of the EPSMO Project is to achieve global environmental benefits through concerted management of the naturally integrated land and water resources of the Okavango River Basin.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  1. Enhance the depth, accuracy, and accessibility of the existing knowledge base of basin characteristics and conditions and identify the principal threats to the transboundary water resources of the Okavango River Basin through a Trans-boundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA);
  2. Develop and implement, through a structured process, a sustainable and cost-effective program of policy, legal and institutional reforms and investments to mitigate the identified threats to the basin's linked land and water systems through the Strategic Action Programme (SAP); and,
  3. Assist the three riparian nations (Angola, Botswana and Namibia) in their efforts to improve their capacity to collectively manage the basin.

The principle output of the project is a Strategic Action Programme (SAP): an implementable program of joint management to address threats to the basin's linked land and water systems. The SAP provides the vehicle in which to package the plan, overcome the barriers to regional co-operation and ensure that the sustainable development baseline can be met and global objectives achieved.

The SAP initiatives are integrated within the National Action Plans (NAP). These are priority management initiatives at the country level designed to halt, reverse or pre-empt threats to the integrity of the basin while promoting sustainable economic and human development. The NAPs will be developed concurrently with SAP so that national priorities complement basin objectives and basin-wide SAP initiatives are reflected in national agendas.

ACWR is responsible for the delivery of three components of the overall EPSMO project:

In preparation of the commissioning of the final TDA, ACWR conducted a gap analysis study that provides an overview of currently available information and data (as required for TDAs according to GEF methodology) and identifies existing data and information gaps. The findings of this gap analysis study informed the development of ToR for the comprehensive final TDA of the basin.

ACWR is tasked to undertake an in-depth governance review for the Okavango Basin TDA. The governance review analyses the legal, policy and strategy, and institutional framework for the management of the basin at international, national and local level with a view to identifying current and possible future governance constraints. Based on the review, recommendations will be made for governance responses that enable the countries to effectively deal with current and (possible) future stresses on the system.

ACWR has been tasked to facilitate and provide technical guidance to the development of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) by the three basin states. Through a consultative process with relevant stakeholders in the basin states and regional, the SAP is a long-term programme of actions and investments for the management of the basin as negotiated and agreed on by the member states. ACWR is responsible for synthesising the stakeholder inputs and drafting the SAP document throughout the consultative and negotiation process.

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