Diamond miner and retailer De Beers and National Geographic have announced the launch of Okavango Eternal, a partnership aiming to protect the source waters of the Okavango Delta and the lives and livelihoods they support.
The five-year commitment represents critical inward investment in Botswana’s resilience and long-term recovery in the years ahead, and is focused on working together with communities in the Okavango to deliver ecological solutions that lead to collective economic opportunity, DeBeers said in a press release.
The Okavango Basin, spanning southern Angola, Namibia, and Botswana, is the main source of water and food security for many communities and the Okavango Delta’s health is dependent on these source lakes and rivers. While the Delta itself holds protected status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, parts of the Okavango Basin that feed it do not. The effects of climate change, deforestation and upstream commercial agriculture are putting this critical lifeline at risk.
Since 2015, the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, through its implementation partner the Wild Bird Trust and in consultation with traditional and community leaders, has been working to secure permanent, sustainable protection for the Okavango Basin.
With Okavango Eternal, National Geographic joins with De Beers to provide on the ground support and funding to expand and accelerate work already underway, and supporting communities and settlements across Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
“Supporting Botswana’s long-term sustainable development is a central priority for De Beers Group, and we continue to have a clear focus on identifying the best ways to support Government with its response to the immediate challenges presented by covid-19,” De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said in the statement.
“We are committed to investing in Botswana’s future and this partnership with National Geographic will play an important part in this vital recovery work, supporting lives and livelihoods – especially those in the crucial eco-tourism sector which has been so hard hit due to restricted travel.”
“The Okavango Delta is a place of remarkable natural beauty and profound importance to every generation of Batswana. It is our privilege to be able to experience its wonder, but we cannot take this privilege for granted,” the Honourable Phildah Kereng, Botswana Minister of Environment said.
“I commend the commitment shown by De Beers and National Geographic to work alongside stakeholders in the region to ensure the Okavango Delta’s source waters are protected so that it can continue to provide us, our children and our children’s children with water, with jobs and with inspiration.”