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Water Governance



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Non-Governmental Organisations  

A number of international and national Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) either have a presence in the Kunene river basin or are involved in terms of analysis, advocacy and research.

At the International / Regional Level

  • The International Rivers Network (IRN) is active in the region and has worked extensively with local organisations (Kranz et al. 2005). The IRN campaigns against proposed hydroelectric development on the Kunene River on the grounds of sustainability in the face of climate change and the expected impacts on local people, particularly the Himba.
  • The World Conservation Union, regional office for southern Africa ( IUCN-ROSA), assists governments and institutions in the development of policies and strategies, focusing on resources protection, sustainable use, natural resources management, equity and biological diversity (Kranz et al. 2005a). The Kunene river basin features in a number of IUCN publications.
  • The World Commission on Dams (WCD) was established to help transcend the breakdown of dialogue between NGOs, the private sector, governments and international organisations, on the construction of large dams. The commission was formed by 12 members of diverse backgrounds, and worked between May 1998 and the year 2000, dissolving with the delivery of its report in November 2000 (Kranz et al. 2005a). Although the organisation is defunct, the WCD website is still useful and contains a number of publications that relate to the Kunene River basin.
  • The Network for Advocacy of Water Issues in Southern Africa (NAWISA) was launched at the Southern African Water Network Strategic Planning Workshop, Johannesburg, South Africa, from February 7th – 9th 2001. EMG was elected to serve as the first "host organization" for the Secretariat. As of April 2003 the "hosting" function moved to Botswana.
  • The Mission Statement of mentions as key priorities for NAWISA a) Information sharing. b) Capacity building c) Funding and d) Advocacy. For more details on NAWISA see here.
  • "The Mission of the Africa Civil Society Network on Water (ANEW) is to facilitate the coordination of diverse African Civil Society Organizations (CSO) voices in water and sanitation. Its main objective is to build the capacity of African CSOs, thus enabling them influence and develop policies supportive of MDG and WSSD targets.Accordingly, this Programme aims at providing members with opportunities to make constructive contributions to international work aimed at sustainably managing water resources and improving water supply and sanitation services. It therefore seeks to initiate, develop and maintain collaborative mechanisms among CSOs working in Africa by enhancing communication on matters relating to water and sanitation, and updating members on national and international water initiatives, policies and strategies, reports as well as best practices which are relevant to the African scenario.“ For more details on ANEW see here.
NGOs in both countries implement rural water projects.
Source: Tump 2004
( click to enlarge )

International NGOs


Namibia has relatively few international NGOs based in the country. Those that are there focus on specific sectors such as HIV /AIDS and education. Water and natural resource management are sectors addressed by strong local NGOs and government bodies. International NGOs working in Namibia include project funding NGOs such as Africa Humanitarian Action, Red Cross and Africare, and volunteering NGOs (US Peace Corps, Voluntary Service Overseas and Skillshare International).


Although the number of international NGOs in Angola has declined significantly since the immediate post-war period, significant numbers still have a presence, with work focussing on a wide variety of development interventions. In the four Kunene basin provinces of Huambo, Huila, Kunene and Namibe, international NGOs working in water-related sectors include Oxfam, Development Workshop, CARE International and OIKOS. International NGOs working in other development sectors in these provinces include Caritas, Christian Children’s Fund, Save the Children network, International Medical Corps, Adventist Relief and Development Agency, Africare, SNV and Tearfund.

National Non-Governmental Organisations


A number of strong local NGOs work in northern Namibia on issues related to water resource management, conservation management and combating desertification through community action. These include the following:

Desert Research Foundation Namibia (DRFN) ( DRFN’s stated mission is as a "Namibian non-governmental sustainability organisation aiming to enhance decision-making for sustainable development through research, training and consultancy in the country’s land, water and energy sectors." DRFN is involved in a number of projects focussed on IWRM in northern Namibia, including the Kunene basin, such as Cuvelai-Etosha Basin Sustainable IWRM, Namibia Water Partnership, and Groundwater Monitoring in Northern Namibia.

Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) ( In the words of the IRDNC website, "IRDNC Trust strives to improve the lives of rural people by diversifying the socio-economy in Namibia's communal areas to include wildlife and other valuable natural resources. We believe this will, in turn, secure a long-term place for wild animals outside of national parks, and significantly reduce the pressure on these areas in the future. The Trust further aims to build up the capacity of rural Namibians, and to assist them to develop a civil society whose members can sustainably manage and benefit from their local natural resources." IRDNC run a project in the Kunene Region focussing on rural development and natural resource management through establishment of community-run nature conservancies.

Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) ( The primary aims of the NNF are "to promote sustainable development, the conservation of biological diversity and natural ecosystems, and the wise and ethical use of natural resources for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future." Relevant projects include the "Every River has its People" project, and protected area management with a focus on the Etosha and Skeleton Coast Park. The NNF also undertakes State of the Environment Reporting for Namibia.

The Namibia Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations (NACSO) ( is an association comprising 15 NGOs and the University of Namibia. The purpose of NACSO is to "provide quality services to rural communities seeking to manage and utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner." Members of NACSO with projects in the Kunene Region include DRFN and NNF mentioned above, as well as the following NGOs:

  • Rural People’s Institute for Social Empowerment (RISE) provides institutional capacities to emerging and already existing conservancies and CBOs, facilitates enterprise development and facilitates natural resource management. RISE operates in Erongo and southern Kunene.
  • Welwitschia Development Trust (WDT) is a Khorixas based NGO with a vision to reduce poverty, encourage good governance and to improve the livelihoods of rural people through providing development and institutional strengthening support. WDT operates in the Kunene Region.


A large number of national NGOs are registered in the four provinces of the Kunene basin, namely Huambo, Huila, Kunene and Namibe; however few, if any, operate in sectors directly linked to management of the basin’s water resources. The majority of the 40+ national NGOs registered in the four provinces – mostly in Huambo and Huila – are church-based or church-related (for example Caritas (Catholic Church), the Congregational Church IECA, the Angolan YMCA and the Council of Churches CICA) and commonly run projects such as rural development / community development, HIV/AIDS awareness, support to returning refugees and demobilised soldiers. Communities represented and supported by these NGOs and churches may include riparian communities in the Kunene basin.

Large national NGOs with local offices such as ADRA (Action for Rural Development and the Environment) have more of a specific environmental mandate and get involved in development and advocacy work around water resources and water availability for rural communities. Human Rights & Land rights NGOs (such as ALSSA and SOS Habitat) represent the interests of rural communities forced to relocate due, for example, to allocation of agricultural land to companies and investors. Finally, there are national NGOs with a specific mandate around local issues, for example SNH (Solidariedade Nyaneca – Humbi), which aims to reduce conflict between local ethnic groups, including those concerned by developments on the Kunene river. (




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