The purpose of the site is to share background information about the Irrigation Authority and provide facts and figures regarding the activities of the irrigation scheme. The scheme is situated on the Lower Orange River, i.e. the border between the Republics of Namibia and South Africa and has been in use since 1933. The international Noordoewer-Vioolsdrift JIA is the only one of its kind on the Orange River, and is perhaps a pioneer for further cooperative ventures of this kind.
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 transboundary 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:
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:
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.
Research has been carried out to fill knowledge gaps for the transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA) and to determine the environmental flow requirements of the Fish and lower Orange rivers and estuary.
A number of knowledge gaps were identified in the preliminary TDA and efforts have been made to fill some of these in. In particular:
Three projects have been developed to test and demonstrate new techniques and methodologies to help address priority transboundary problems. Set locally, they are expected to provide best practices, lessons and potential solutions to problems at a basin-wide scale. They include:
Information from these studies is available in a number of publications and technical reports.
The project was started at the request of the Government of Botswana and works with the communities of two villages, Khawa and Zutshwa, in the southern Kalahari. It addresses rangeland management and the underlying causes of the problem through a number of activities and initiatives:
This project is being carried out in a number of locations near Mount Moorosi in Quthing District and is well-supported by local communities. It is expected to result in protection of rangelands from overgrazing that will lead to improved animal health and local livelihoods. This is being achieved by activities in two main areas:
Working with a range of farmers from Noordoewer and Vioolsdrift, and the Joint Irrigation Authority (JIA) responsible for their shared irrigation scheme in this part of the lower Orange River, this project has been testing a number of different management approaches and technologies to assist in developing a water management strategy. Activities include:
Rangeland management in south-eastern Botswana
Rangeland management in Lesotho
Water demand management and conservation in irrigation along the lower Orange.
The WIS currently offers access to almost 40,000 files of data, documents and maps through a search facility, and a ‘water wiki’ whereby stakeholders can upload data and information from local surveys. Improvements are currently underway to enhance its functionality and its ‘look and feel’. The WIS also profiles more than 100 other data custodians, with data and information holdings relevant to ORASECOM’s functions.
Access at wis.orasecom.org
Working closely with a respective working group and ORASECOM’s Legal Task Team, a document providing detailed guidance on requirements regarding environmental assessments (EA) for activities that may have significant transboundary impacts has been drafted.
The document details procedural and documentary requirements for both environmental impact and strategic environmental assessments (EIAs and SEAs). It also includes detailed procedures for communication and collaboration between the basin states, a set of templates covering various components of the communication and notification process, and evaluation tools for EA reports.
It is expected that the recommendations will be applied to larger projects in the basin, as well as policies, plans and programmes, likely to have significant transboundary implications. It is hoped that the use of these recommendations will improve the way that EA tools are used and administered, strengthen their influence in decision-making processes and facilitate better cooperation and information-sharing during post-implementation compliance and monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation measures.
The first of its kind in the region, this document will hopefully be beneficial in setting standards for undertaking EAs within transboundary river basins. The report is due to published in the final quarter of 2013.
“Now I’ve made the decision to use a five-litre bucket to water the garden and the flowers to save water.”