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NEWS: ODMP is co-convening a Seminar on 23 August at the World Water Week. Click here for more information.

To poor people - Wetlands are a lifeline

The Okavango Delta lies heart of Southern Africa. The Delta's wildlife attracts tourists from around the world, providing a major source of income for the 150,000 Batswana people living in the Delta and the overall population of Botswana. Ensuring sustainable use is critical to the future of the Delta and the local economy.

The Okavango is unique in that it is the only perennial river in Africa that flows eastwards without reaching the ocean, forming the world's largest inland wetland ecosystem in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, and is the world's largest Ramsar site.

The ODMP is a management plan for the Okavango Delta with the objective to develop a comprehensive, integrated management plan for the conservation and sustainable use of the Okavango Delta and surrounding areas.

The Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) is facilitated, coordinated and supervised by the Government of Botswana, Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, through the Department of Environmental Affairs.

The ODMP project is being developed within the context of regional and international conventions, agreements and protocols as well as the national vision, policies, plans and development strategies ratified by Botswana. The most noteworthy instruments are the Ramsar Convention, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Shared Water Courses, the National Vision and the environmental policies.
The Management Plan integrates the principles of the Ecosystem Approach with the social, economic and institutional realities on the ground.

Integrating sectors and applying participatory planning is crucial to ensure ownership of the Plan among all stakeholders.

An essential goal of the Plan is to achieve balance between human and environmental water demands. There is an urgent need to understand to what extent the ecosystem can be manipulated by human activities.

The strategy for mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into the Management Plan is currently being developed as part of the finalisation of the Plan by October 2006. The Plan will include specific actions to combat HIV-AIDS in the Delta, with a specific emphasis on empowering vulnerable groups such as women and girls.

Botswana needs to cooperate with upstream countries Namibia and Angola to build a sustainable future for the Okavango Delta and the entire River Basin through the Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM) Agreement that was signed in 1994.

ODMP in 5 questions

1. What is the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP)?
The ODMP is a management plan for the Okavango Delta with the objective to: "To develop a comprehensive, integrated management plan for the conservation and sustainable use of the Okavango Delta and surrounding areas." Work on the plan started in May 2003 and the project was officially launched in October 2003 and the plan is scheduled to be finalised in October 2006.

2. How did the ODMP come about?
The Government of Botswana ratified the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, (the Ramsar Convention) in April 1997. In 2001 the Government of Botswana developed the draft National Wetlands Policy and Strategy. The provisions of Botswana's draft National Wetlands Policy and Strategy, reinforced with obligations under the Ramsar Convention, require that Botswana develop an integrated management plan for the Okavango Delta, the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP), to guide and regulate all activities that take place within the Okavango Delta Ramsar Site.

3. What are the goals of the ODMP ?

Through consulting with stakeholders it aims at creating a long-term vision for the Okavango Delta. In addition the plan will provide an overarching framework and contextual guidelines for all other district strategies and plans including setting limits of acceptable change to ensure sustainable use of the natural resources. The plan will also address research needs, ways to monitor the ecosystem and setting of standards. Provisions will be made for the establishment of institutions and procedures for the implementation and review of the plan, including building capacity to ensure that this is carried out. Finally the ODMP should provide development options to the Permanent Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM) for its entire Okavango River basin management planning exercise.

4. What are the main principles of ODMP?
The ODMP Project was designed under the main principle of strengthening ownership through accountability and the active participation of all stakeholders both during development and implementation of the plan. This means the building of trust; capacity building through hands-on and short-term training; dialogue with all stakeholders; and engagement with local stakeholders, addressing the issues that concerns them. The ODMP has also adopted an integrated planning process where all sectors collaborate at all planning and implementation stages. This means vertical collaboration with all stakeholders from different sectors and different level and horizontal collaboration with multiple sectors. ODMP also applies sensitivity to aspects of Gender, HIV and AIDS.

5. How does the ODMP address transboundary collaboration issues ?
ODMP aims to communicate, network and share information with basin wide stakeholders as well as the international community.This is especially important when it comes to the upstream riparian neighbours Namibia and Angola. The ODMP has as one of its missions to communicate and collaborate with upstream basin states under the framework of the OKACOM Agreement (Permanent Okavango River Basin Commission, agreement signed in 1994). This communication aims at ensuring that Namibia and Angola are informed and aware of the impact of development decisions, for the sustainability of the Delta. The ODMP also aims to contribute to improving collaboration and cooperation in the Okavango Basin to communicate the aspirations of both downstream and upstream stakeholders. ODMP is also interested in enriching its understanding of international stakeholder aspirations, for consideration during the finalisation of the ODMP. ODMP is also looking to identify opportunities for further support and cooperation with development partners as well as linking with other river basins for further collaboration and information sharing.

More information about the policy and visioning excercise More information on the ODMP Communication Component Contact:
Okavango Delta Management Plan Project Secretariat
PO Box 35
Tel: +267 6801237
Fax: +267 6862503
Email: psegomelo@gov.bw









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