Supporting climate-smart communities in the Cubango-Okavango River Basin

  • Country: Botswana, Namibia, Angola
  • Organisation: The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM)
  • Support area: Adaptation to the consequences of climate change, Conserving biological diversity, Conserving natural carbon sinks / forestry
  • Objective: Demonstrate adaptation to climate change and biological conservation through climate smart practices by identifying and supporting local organisations to implement selected approaches
  • IKI funding: 750,000 euros
  • Project start: 01/06/2022
  • Project end: 31/05/2024
  • Website:

The IKI Small Grants project supports the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) in Botswana, Namibia, and Angola to implement a call for proposals in the mentioned countries that invites projects to enhance community adaptation through climate smart practices. The initiative supports innovative projects with potential to strengthen community-based livelihoods demonstration which include conservation agriculture, sustainable community fisheries management and climate smart horticulture production. It is expected that those projects will reduce soil degradation and biodiversity loss while increasing food security.


The Cubango-Okavango River Basin is a transboundary basin with a network of river systems traversing through Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. It has outstanding biodiversity hotspots threatened by climate change and clearing of land for agricultural purposes. Slash and burn as well as shifting cultivation practices are common, with farmers frequently moving plots in search for new fertile soils. While shifting cultivation by a single farmer may seem negligible, collective impacts on biodiversity loss and reduced carbon sequestration are significant. The Okavango River is one of the transboundary rivers where fish resources are affected by recurrent low flows attributed to climate variability (low rainfall in the upper areas of the catchment) and overfishing. At the same time, fish contributes to food security and household income. The situation is exacerbated by a lack of harmonized transboundary fisheries resources management and practices.


Civil society groups in the three OKACOM member states Angola, Botswana, and Namibia can apply for funding during the call for proposals. These groups include including non-governmental organisations, universities, community-based organisations, community-based natural resource management groups, and farmers associations. Local government structures responsible for improving livelihoods and biodiversity conservation will also be considered. As funding institution, OKACOM estimates to finance five small-scale projects. The primary target group comprises rural communities along the Kavango and Cuito Rivers subsisting on local agriculture. Women and economically disadvantaged groups are prioritized.


Based on an open call for proposals, organisations from the three member states were selected to implement projects that support community adaptation to climate change and biological conservation in the river basin through climate-smart practice. The projects build on OKACOM initiatives which include conservation agriculture, climate-smart horticulture production, community-based fisheries management, and community-based conservation tourism.

The focal geographical area is the transboundary Kavango River (bordering the south-eastern Angola and northeastern Namibia), the Panhandle area of the Okavango Delta, and the outlet Thamalakane-Boteti river system in northern Botswana. OKACOM is backstopped by its structure within the member states which include the Water Resources Technical Committee, the Biodiversity and Environment Technical Committee, the Socio-economic Development Technical Committee, and the Okavango Basin Steering Committee.

The call for proposals includes a clearly defined grant scheme with associated grant management tools. It defines objectives that applicants should contribute to, potential approaches to be supported under the project, eligibility criteria for applicant organisations, proposal development guidelines, application procedures, institutional arrangements, selection criteria, evaluation criteria, progress reporting and quality assurance processes and procedures.  Advertisement in print and online media in Angola, Botswana and Namibia flanks the call. During the implementation phase, grant management activities include backstopping of sub-grantees, documentation of lessons learnt and good practice, monitoring, and evaluation as well as knowledge exchange (e.g., study visits, conferences) to promote upscaling. The project includes activities on institutional capacity building of OKACOM regarding grant management through the development of standard operating procedures and staff training.


The Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) is a river basin organisation established by the Republics of Angola, Botswana, and Namibia through agreement in 1994. It is a platform that coordinates transboundary water resources’ governance and management of shared watercourse in the Cubango-Okavango River Basin. With support from various international cooperation partners, OKACOM is currently implementing its 20 years Strategic Action Programme which advocates for a Basin Development and Management Framework anchored on four thematic areas which are livelihoods and socio-economic development, water resources management, land management and biodiversity and environment. A strong emphasis is on the demonstration of environmentally-sound socioeconomic development as means of improving livelihoods of rural communities of the basin that are generally languishing in poverty.


Forests, fish, and food
Support area: Adapting to the impacts of climate change
Organisation: Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF)

The project increases the resilience and adaptive potential of community management structures by supporting three conservancies and by co-managing fisheries. This happens through capacity building in integrated resource management, enhancing transboundary collaboration, and awareness creation on the importance of community fisheries.

Extension of the conservation agriculture project in Calai, Angola
Support area: Adapting to the impacts of climate change
Organisation: Associação de Conservação do Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Integrado Rural (ACADIR)

The project improves the living conditions of communities by increasing food security from local production systems and investigating options of alternative income generation. To cope with the more frequent heavy rainfall, the use of irrigation systems as well as improved soil management ensures more constant cultivation possibilities under changing conditions.

Mitigating the twin challenges of COVID-19 and climate change on food and nutrition security
Support area: Adapting to the impacts of climate change
Organisation: PanAfricare

The project aims at mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security of farm families in the Okavango River Basin traverses of Angola using climate-smart agricultural (CSA) technologies. The project targets 80 smallholder farmers, including 42 women and their families, forming two associations each in Cuangar and Calai. The overall objective is to increase livelihood resilience of vulnerable households by increasing availability to high nutritious horticulture.

Reviving agricultural livelihood opportunities through climate-smart farming practices
Support area: Adapting to the impacts of climate change
Organisation: Pabalelo Trust

The project addresses diminishing agricultural livelihood opportunities, a challenge which has escalated in recent years mainly due to effects of climate change and human-wildlife conflict, especially between humans and elephants. The aim is to set up four demonstration gardens to present human-elephant conflict mitigation measures and climate-smart farming to improve farmers’ livelihoods.

Motswedi horticultural demonstration project
Support area: Adapting to the impacts of climate change
Organisation: Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NCONGO)

The project addresses food insecurity and socioeconomic vulnerability of communities through upscaling and replicating climate smart horticultural practices, using borehole and river irrigation and shade netting for community individual farmers. The aim is to capacitate local communities and to enhance the productivity of dryland agriculture, as well as to uptake the lessons learned from OKACOM demonstration projects.