Southern African Countries to Launch Major Food, Water Project for Okavango Basin

The Southern African Development Community and the African Development Bank (AfDB) are working on a project to improve water management and food security in the two Okavango Basin states of Angola and Namibia.

The proposed project, titled “SADC Agriculture Water Management and Food Security Upper — Okavango Basin” will be presented to the AfDB board for approval on 25 October.

It has five components covering increased agricultural productivity, sustainable natural resources utilization and management, community and institutional development and financing, infrastructure development, and project coordination and management.

The main purpose of the agricultural productivity component will be to identify and disseminate technical knowledge of improved approaches to water management, agricultural production (including livestock and aquaculture) and market access to smallholder farmers within the basin area.

Other activities planned under the crop production sub-component include field testing and demonstration of new small-scale production approaches, including the utilization of water conservation techniques, expanded use of inputs, improved varieties and crop diversification.

It is also proposed that there will be technical support for expanded irrigated crop production. In Namibia, this is envisaged as occurring largely through the government’s “Green Scheme”, already being implemented at two other sites in the country under AfDB financing.

Under the aquaculture sub-component, the project plans to provide support for fishing cooperatives in Cuito Cuanavale, Nancova, Cuchi and Cuelei in Angola, including tanks for restocking and the provision of fishing kits.

The component also envisages provision of expanded technical assistance for improved post harvest, storage, processing and marketing skills to farmers in Angola and Namibia.

The second component of the project will focus on ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources within the project area, with particular attention to efficient water resource utilization.

Main and subsidiary activities will include undertaking an inventory of the existing natural resources in the basin within both Angola and Namibia, as well as identification, demonstration and promotion of sustainable and productive agricultural technologies, including conservation farming, water harvesting and catchment, and slope management and stabilization.

This component will also aim to strengthen land-use planning and zoning capacity in the Okavango Basin, including wetland and buffer zone management in order to ensure that sustainable land development takes place.

The community and institutional development component will focus on the creation and strengthening of local capacity and social capital for sustainable economic development and increased food security.

This will involve creation of community water user groups (rainfed and irrigated) and other special interest groups, as well as the establishment of an agriculture research centre in Cuchi and a professional training centre in Menongue, both in Angola.

There are also plans to establish the Okavango Community Investment Fund, a small-scale investment fund accessible by communities, groups and local entrepreneurs to provide shared cost financing of productive activities at local level. The fourth component of the project will involve infrastructure investment, particularly in roads and bridges.

Key major and subsidiary activities will include a demining sub-component under which large tracts of land will be cleared in Angola to make way for roads and create agricultural fields as well as the rehabilitation and construction of water storage and distribution canals in the two basin countries.

Road construction and rehabilitation will be crucial to open up key agricultural supply chain routes for farmers in the basin area.

The total investment cost for the project is provisionally estimated at US$66 million over a six year implementation period, with US$37.5 million for Angola and US$28.5 million for Namibia.