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Turton, A.R. and Earle, A. 2003. Public Participation in the Development of a Management Plan for an International River Basin: The Okavango Case. Paper presented at the International Symposium Public Participation and Governance in Water Resources Management 8 October 2003, United Nations House, Tokyo, Japan


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Public Participation in the Development of a Management Plan for an International River Basin: The Okavango Case.

Summary / Notes:

The Okavango River basin is strategically important to its riparian states for a variety of reasons. This is particularly true for the two downstream states – Botswana and Namibia – neither of which has any perennial rivers flowing on their soil with the exception of a short reach of the Okavango River. These two countries are among the most economically developed in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, and both face water scarcity constraints to their future economic growth and diversification. The recent ending of the civil war in Angola has opened up prospects for the development of the Okavango River and has provided an impetus to institutional development in the form of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM). Central to this has been the drive to develop water policy for the whole river basin, a fact that is made difficult by the seemingly incompatible needs of the three riparian states. Green Cross International (GCI) and the African Water Issues Research Unit (AWIRU) developed a new approach to public participation in which experimental space was created for the commissioners from OKACOM to be sensitized to civil society needs and aspirations while being empowered by scientific know-how from the epistemic community. This paper documents key elements of this process and shows how public participation enabled OKACOM to eventually re-define the area in which they were capable of having a realistic impact.

Year: 2003

Type: Report

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