Okacom Meets Over Shared River [opinion]

The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) met last Thursday in Rundu to discuss issues pertaining to water resource management initiatives.

OKACOM is an interstate organization established by the 1994 Windhoek Agreement between Angola, Botswana and Namibia to see how the countries can collectively benefit from the shared river resource.

The meeting looked at the management of the river basin and was preceded by meetings of the Okavango Basin Steering Committee (OBSC) held early last week. The session reflected on how to facilitate the evolution of cooperation over time to more aanced stages and the benefits of transboundary water cooperation. The meeting also looked at what the three countries are doing on the river and what they are using it for. For example, Botswana is more interested in tourism benefits, while arid Namibia is more about the supply of water to its people and irrigation of crops. The meeting marked another milestone in terms of institutional strengthening of the OKACOM Secretariat, as well as the start of the implementation of the first year of Swedish support for the OKACOM Five-Year Plan for its institutional and capacity developmentI. The capacity development efforts will enable OKACOM to reconfigure its institutional architecture to effectively face the challenge to implement the action programme for the river basin.

Speaking at the occasion, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita, who is also the commission chairman said: “For the sustainability of our river basin and its resources, we all have the duty to conserve, to manage, to inform, to share, to participate, to commit and most importantly the duty to cooperate.”

Iita noted that the Strategic Action Plan for the river basin spells out the actions at transboundary level that all need to engage and implement for all to achieve the set objectives. Iita urged all member states to collaborate in implementing the plan.

“This is our main vehicle in attaining sustainability of our river basin reosurces equally,” he said.

OKACOM has also embarked on an several ambitious initiatives aimed at securing its long-term sustainability whilst at the same time attracting much needed investment to the basin. The meeting is held on a yearly basis and rotates among members Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The next meeting will be held in Angola in 2015.

The writer is the chairperson of OKACOM.

Source : New Era