In close collaboration with the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM), this four-year project, funded by the Global Environment Fund through the United Nations Development Programme, assists the basin states in identifying principal threats to the water resources of the Orange–Senqu and in developing and implementing a sustainable programme of policy, legal and institutional reforms and investments to address these. The objective of implementing such initiatives contributes towards ORASECOM’s programmes and the long-term goal of sustainable development of the Orange-Senqu River basin. The project is using a trans-boundary diagnostic analysis (TDA) and strategic action programme (SAP) process to meet its objective, while concurrently implementing a number of projects and activities to help strengthen ORASECOM, fill knowledge gaps, and raise awareness and encourage participation of the public.
Through its activities, the project supports ORASECOM in four main areas: institutional capacity, transboundary diagnostic analysis, research and demonstration projects and public participation and communication. These feed into the development of national action plans (NAPs) for each of the basin states and a basin-wide strategic action programme (SAP) towards the improved and sustainable management of the basin.
The project contributes to institutional strengthening through three initiatives:
- development of an information and knowledge management system, the Water Information System (WIS) and ‘water wiki’
- development of recommendations for transboundary environmental assessment for undertaking environmental assessments within transboundary river basins
- various capacity development activities, targeting water resources practitioners
Transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA)
Building on the preliminary TDA of the Orange–Senqu River basin, adopted in 2008, work continues to fill knowledge gaps and further analyse prioritised transboundary problems with respect to their impacts and causes, and identify points of intervention. A final TDA publication is currently in production. It will provide a description of the basin and bring new information to the table, encompassing recent research and analyses, and providing a basis for the development of the NAPs and SAP. Information in the TDA will also be compiled into publications designed for the general reader and school children.
Research and demonstration projects
Research has been carried out to fill knowledge gaps for the transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA). In particular, the levels of POPs, PAHs and heavy metals in sediments, fish and the eggs of water birds were surveyed throughout the basin; the hydrology further analysed; and, through cooperation with the Benguela Current Commission and their UNDP–GEF-funded strategic action programme, impacts of the river system on the marine and coastal environment assessed. Important information from these studies has been compiled in a number of publications and technical reports.
Research to determine the environmental flow requirements of the Fish and lower Orange rivers and estuary is currently being carried out to provide guidance to the basin on strategies regarding the release of water from dams.
Three pilot projects have been developed to test and demonstrate new techniques and methodologies to priority transboundary problems. Set locally, they are expected to provide best practices and lessons learnt and potential solutions to concerns at a basin-wide scale. The pilot projects examine water demand management in the irrigation sector and rangeland management in sensitive habitats in Botswana and Lesotho.
Public participation and communication
Following an integrated approach to water resources management, the project encourages participation and raises awareness at different levels through a variety of means:
- encouraging stakeholder participation in decision-making through the NAPs and SAP process
- production of a variety of publications
- local interaction, interest and impact through demonstration projects
- interacting with children through water quality assessments and assistance with the production of the Orange–Senqu River Learning Box
- the ORASECOM water information system (WIS) interface
Development of strategic action programme
A basin-wide strategic action programme (SAP) and four national action plans (NAPs) are being developed through a participatory and consultative process with relevant stakeholders. These planning documents will outline agreed management responses to the priority transboundary water-related environmental problems identified in the transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA). The NAPs will comprise of national component of basin-wide activities and specific national activities providing a vehicle to integrate basin-wide actions outlined in the SAP into national planning processes and budgets.