Along with Namibia’s and Botswana’s plans, Angola's plan will provide critical guidance to the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM).
Managing transboundary watersheds systems is a complicated and fascinating global challenge, requiring a high level of planning, diplomacy and compromise. The 260,000 square kilometer Cubango/Okavango River Basin, which spans vast areas of southern Angola, northeastern Namibia and northwestern Botswana, is no exception. The basin is managed on a trilateral level by the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission, or OKACOM. The commission oversees and coordinates macro-planning processes and major developments in the basin and its natural resources.
In November 2010, the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program
— USAID’s partner program to OKACOM — was asked to support the development of national action plans in the three riparian states (Angola, Botswana, and Namibia). The plan is a means of informing the eventual development of a basin-wide, transboundary strategic action plan. The government of the Republic of Angola completed development of its national action plan for the Cuando-Cubango portion of the basin in March 2011 — a significant step forward in establishing environmental protection of the river basin.
An Angolan national action plan validation workshop, attracted more than 70 delegates and stakeholders, including ministers, technical specialists, local nongovernmental organizations, and community representatives. The plan contains a progressive and well-structured approach, based on a solid understanding of transboundary relationships and sustainable watershed use principles. The plan was formally submitted to the Angolan Ministry of Water and Energy for its review and adoption, and eventual approval by the Cabinet.
Angola’s national action plan, along with Namibia’s and Botswana’s plans, will provide critical guidance to OKACOM to oversee the complex nature of the Cubango/Okavango river transboundary water resources management processes. In the next 10 to 20 years, the national action plan will help foster peace and collaboration and will help protect the integrity and biodiversity of the basin while securing the livelihoods of its residents.
“We are very proud of this plan, because it was carried out in a very professional manner, involving a wide group of stakeholders. It will provide our government with strong guidelines for managing the Cuando-Cubango basin in the future,” said Carlos Andrade, a member of OKACOM’s technical steering committee.