Southern Africa: USAID, SADC Address Water Challenges

Kasane — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on a five-year project to address water challenges facing communities in the Limpopo River Basin and Okavango River Basin.

Water resources management specialist at USAID Southern Africa, Ms Jeanette Normand, said this during a workshop for journalists in Kasane recently.

She explained that people in Southern Africa faced water shortages, increased floods and declines in crop productivity.

Trans-boundary cooperation and adaptive management of critical river ecosystems was needed to secure the region's fragile biodiversity and ecosystem services and to support robust livelihoods, said Ms Normand.

She also noted that USAID's Resilient Waters Programme project aimed at building more resilient and water secure Southern African communities and ecosystems through improved management of trans-boundary natural resources and increased access to safe drinking water and sanitation services. The geographic focus of the project, she explained, was on the Limpopo River Basin which was home to 18 million people living in parts of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and the Okavango River Basin, home to one million people living in parts of Angola, Namibia, and Botswana.

Consequently, Ms Normand highlighted that USAID would cooperate with regional structures such as the River Basin Organisations and Trans-frontier Conservation Areas to implement the project. She also noted that it was important for the media to play an active role in raising awareness on water issues in the region. This programme remained relevant to the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) due to competing demands between population explosion and an increase in wildlife numbers, especially elephants.

Presenting on the KAZA-TFCA, the executive director, Dr Nyambe Nyambe noted that the project was relevant and should be understood in the context of wildlife and water protocols.

He explained that half of the remaining African Savanna elephant were found in the KAZA countries and that the conservation area presented an opportunity for movement of elephants with consequences of both overpopulation and under population. He also noted that the KAZA TFCA was home to a quarter of the African wild dogs. The KAZA TFCA, he added, had the largest population of elephants in Africa with Botswana hosting over 130 000 while neighbouring countries also hosted a substantial population, which resulted in human wildlife conflict.

KAZA, he highlighted, was a multiple land use area that called for harmonisation of policies and laws among member states.

The KAZA Treaty, he explained, called for the pursuit of development in a coordinated way and the building of a natural resources based economy.

Dr Nyambe also said some of the challenges facing the KAZA TFCA included species loss and resource depletion, human wildlife conflict, fresh water ecosystems degradation, wildlife crimes and poaching, habitat loss, poverty and underdevelopment.

Source: BOPA

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