GABORONE, July 5 (TerraViva) Stakeholder participation is among the guiding principles for Southern Africa’s family of river basin organisations. OKACOM, the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission, has just completed an extensive study of the Cubango-Okavango river system, and has produced a comic book to promote and popularise a Strategic Action Plan for the basin.
The audience targeted by the comic, titled “River Cousins”, is youth between 10 and 17 years old in the countries that share this river basin, Angola, Botswana, and Namibia.
The Cubango-Okavango River basin remains one of the basins least affected by human impact on the African continent. Originating in the Angolan highlands the Cubango-Okavango forms the boundary of Namibia and Angola, joined along this stretch by its main tributary, the Cuito, before flowing into Botswana where it fans out into a massive inland delta.
In 2008, OKACOM embarked on a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) of the basin. The usual practice for a study of this kind begins by assessing existing problems related to development in order to recommend solutions. But because this river basin is still in near-pristine condition, OKACOM instead conducted an analysis that looks forward, to assess the positive and negative implications of possible future development of water resources. A proposal for the future has now been outlined in a Strategic Action Programme for the basin.
“The main message in this comic book,” Bontekanye Botumile, author of the comic book, told TerraViva over email. is the importance of coming together, communicating needs, forming friendships and reflecting the different values of the river basin.”
Botumile is the founder of Thari-e-Ntsho Storytellers, an initiative devoted to preserving Botswana’s oral heritage.
The comic, published in English and Portuguese, will be distributed for free in all three countries, with a particular focus on reaching the youth.
A theatre piece has also been developed, and was performed at the launch of the comic book at OKACOM’s Luanda meeting. There are tenta- tive plans to take the show on tour across the affected coverage.
“We hope to make the play part of the launch of our TDA report on basin communities later this year,” said OKACOM Secretariat Communication Specialist Monica Morrison. “The communities (for the launch) will be selected by each member state.”
She added that OKACOM is looking into options for presenting the play in local languages: it already incorporates English, Portuguese and some vernacular languages.
“It is important to note that OKACOM developed the play to build awareness of the cooperation by Angola, Botswana and Namibia among youth in the basin in all three countries.”