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Okavango Basin. Abigail Tomasek. Okavango Basin. Approximately 1600 km long Majority of basin undeveloped and one of the few “near pristine” rivers in the world Only perennial river in Africa that flows eastward without reaching an ocean. http://www.okacom.org/okavango.htm. Basin Statistics.

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Okavango basin

Okavango Basin

Abigail Tomasek

Okavango basin1
Okavango Basin

  • Approximately 1600 km long

  • Majority of basin undeveloped and one of the few “near pristine” rivers in the world

  • Only perennial river in Africa that flows eastward without reaching an ocean


Basin statistics
Basin Statistics

  • Basin area estimates range from 320,000-725,000 km2

  • Okavango catchment listed as 413,550 km2 and Basin as 725,293 km2 by OKACOM

Precipitation distribution
Precipitation Distribution

  • Rainfall not equally distributed across basin

  • Majority of water from rainfall in Angola highlands

    • Angola receives three times as much rainfall as Botswana

  • Water is limited and in demand


Pictures from the delta
Pictures from the Delta


Okavango delta
Okavango Delta

  • Largest inland delta

  • Delta developed in Kalahari depression

  • Situated in a semi-arid region

  • Annual inflow ranges between 7-15 km3

  • Approximately 97% of inflow lost to ET and seepage

  • Approximately 3900 km2 are protected as the Moremi Game Reserve

  • UNESCO World Heritage

  • tentative list

  • Supports over 500 species of birds,

  • 150 species of mammals, and

  • 90 species of fish


Current issues of the delta
Current Issues of the Delta

  • Growing water demand

  • Local contamination from chemicals

  • Invasive species

  • Increasing elephant population

  • Clearing the channels

  • Climate change

  • Drying of the delta?


Current water usage
Current Water Usage

  • Angola

    • Assuming 350,000 people, expected usage of 6 million m3 annually

    • Only one dam (40ha) on tributary

  • Namibia

    • 16.5 million m3 per year taken for irrigating 1100 ha, and approximately 5.5 million m3 for water supply to Rundu and villages

  • Botswana

    • Approximately 2 million m3 annually for Sepupa, Shakawe and Mahembo

    • Maun uses 3 million m3 annually but mostly from GW

  • Abstractions 41 million m3 annually, about 0.44% of water flowing in Okavango River

Potential sources of conflict
Potential Sources of Conflict

  • Return of refugees to the Angola highlands with large developmental needs

  • Failed plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on Popa Falls along Angola-Namibia border

  • Failed plans for Namibia’s

    Eastern National Water


  • Water scarcity in area

  • Botswana’s reliance on

    the health of the delta


Okavango basin

  • OKACOM agreement signed in 1994

  • OKACOM Agreement gives it legal responsibility to:

    • Determine the long term safe yield of the river basin

    • Estimate reasonable demand from the consumers

    • Prepare criteria for conservation, equitable allocation and sustainable utilization of water

    • Conduct investigations related to water infrastructure

    • Recommend pollution prevention measures

    • Develop measures for the alleviation of short term difficulties, such as temporary droughts

    • Address other matters determined by the commission

Okacom structure
OKACOM Structure

OKACOM Commission

3 commissioners per country

Commission's objective:

“to act as technical advisor to the Contracting Parties (the Governments of the three states) on matters relating to the conservation, development and utilization of the resources of common interest and shall perform such other functions pertaining to the development and utilization of such resources as the Contracting Parties may from time to time agree to assign to the Commission"

Okavango Basin Steering Commission

(Angola, Botswana, Namibia)

Institution Task Force

Biodiversity Task Force

Hydrology Task Force

OKACOM Secretariat

(Executive Secretariat)

Seconded Technical Staff

(Angola, Botswana, Namibia)

Direct OKASEC Contractees

Okacom projects and partners
OKACOM Projects and Partners

  • Okavango River Basin Water Audit (ORBWA) project (follow up of EPSMO)

  • Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP)

  • Environmental Protection and Sustainable Management of the Okavango River Basin (GEF-EPSMO)

  • The Every River Has Its People Project

  • The Integrated River Basin Management

    Project (IRBM)

Accomplishments of okacom
Accomplishments of OKACOM

  • Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA)

    • First step of the Environmental Protection and Sustainable Management of the Okavango Basin (EPSMO) Project

    • Designed to identify

      potential problems based on

      3 water use scenarios

    • Identified river-friendly

      wealth creation

  • Recently started discussions

    on self-funding the

    secretariat position

Possible issues for okacom
Possible Issues for OKACOM

  • All decisions during OKACOM meetings made on basis of consensus, and agreement seems ambiguous as to what happens if consensus not made

  • No exact provisions for dispute resolution in the OKACOM agreement

  • Member states can leave OKACOM Agreement after providing Member States 6 months notice

  • No provisions for benefit sharing

  • No specified repercussions for going against agreement


  • How should water in a basin be allocated? Angola is expected to have large developmental needs in the near future, and contributes the majority of the streamflow, but is less water-stressed than Botswana and Namibia. Should this be taken into account?

  • How can the countries balance the protection of the Okavango River and delta while still meeting their water demands?

  • Do you think OKACOM’s structure is working? Is the lack of development in the basin is because OKACOM’s success, or the political situation in the basin hindering development?

  • If protection of the Okavango delta is of global concern, should nations outside the basin be expected to contribute to its preservation?


  • http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/mckinney/ce397/Readings/IW_Review_of_Legal_Instl_Frameworks.pdf

  • http://www.okacom.org/

  • http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDACD456.pdf

  • http://www.wetlands.org/reports/ris/1BW001_mgtpln.pdf

  • http://www.greencrossitalia.it/ita/acqua/wfp/pdf/greencrosswfp_okavango.pdf

  • http://www.orc.ub.bw/downloads/FS2_drying.pdf

  • http://www.okacom.org/TDA%20Brochure.pdf

  • http://www.okavango-delta.net/info.htm

  • http://www.economist.com/node/150959