The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission advises the three riparian states about the best possible use of the river’s natural resources.
The OKACOM Agreement (1994) commits the member states to promote coordinated and environmentally sustainable regional water resources development, while addressing the legitimate social and economic needs of each of the riparian states. The three countries recognize the implications that developments upstream of the river can have on the resources downstream. Most of the river is currently undeveloped and is recognized as one of the few “near pristine” rivers in the world.
Namibia and Botswana are two of the driest countries in southern Africa, and the Okavango River plays an important role not only in the lives of local populations residing along the river, but also at national level. Water-based tourism is the second largest foreign currency earner for Botswana, and most tourism activities are centered on the delta system, which forms part of the larger Okavango River system. The river sustains over half a million people who use the plant and animal resources found in the river to support livelihoods. For Namibia, the “Kavango River” as it is known in that region, drains along the city/town of Rundu and provides support to riparian communities’ livelihoods through a diverse set of ecosystem goods and services. The Okavango Delta has rich biological diversity and is internationally recognized as a site of ecological importance. It has, as a result, been declared a RAMSAR Site (a wetland of international importance). Guided by the spirit of managing the Okavango River Basin as a single entity, the three sovereign states of Angola, Botswana and Namibia agreed to sign the OKACOM Agreement in 1994, in Windhoek, Namibia.
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