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Study Illustrates the Possible Grim Impact of Oil and Gas Extraction Operations in Okavango Delta

The Namibian and Botswana governments may be risking their water resources for oil and gas revenue. They have licensed a Canadian firm, ReconAfrica, to prospect for oil in the Cubango Okavango River Basin, in an area covering 34,000km². In total, the river basin covers 700,000km², encompassing a network of river systems across Angola, Namibia and Botswana. The Cubango and Cuito rivers, which originate from the Angolan highlands, join the Okavango River at the border between Angola and Namibia, and flow into the Okavango Delta in Botswana. A research team with expertise in groundwater resource assessment and protection, has assessed the vulnerability of the Okavango River and Delta to oil and gas drilling. We conclude that possible impacts on water resources are of particular concern in this sensitive area. The Okavango River sustains over half a million people in Namibia and Botswana. The main livelihood activities in the basin are arable farming, livestock farming, fishing and tourism.