The Okavango River Basin is home to some of the most vibrant ecosystems in the world, and the most important. It provides water for more than 1 million Angolans, Botswanans, and Namibians, and the largest remaining population of elephants on the continent.
It’s also under attack.
Poachers are driving wildlife to extinction, natural resources are being pillaged, and sustainable growth is being stifled. People of southwestern Africa have been facing high inflation, economic inequality, and a lack of job creation. Still, their environment may be in greater danger.
“Animals and poachers know no borders,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) told congress. “In order for conservation efforts to be successful, we must take a transboundary approach.”
H.R. 4819, the Defending Economic Livelihoods and Threatened Animals (DELTA) Act is aimed at opening communication between the governments of southwest Africa, bringing the private sector and non-governmental stakeholders together, and helping them all develop a strategy to combat wildlife trafficking, promote sustainable natural resource and water management, and build inclusive economic growth.
The DELTA Act will also send U.S. assistance focusing on development through conservation, technical assistance, and anti-poaching support. Working with private companies in the region, the U.S. government will support conservation projects and stimulate development.
As reported in Borgen Magazine, the DELTA Act has five main goals:
- To encourage federal agencies to work in conjunction with the governments of Angola, Botswana and Namibia to create improved natural resource management and wildlife conservation.
- To add protection to the migration routes of elephants and other endangered species that live around the river basin.
To fight against poaching and trafficking of wildlife in the area.
- To assist with human health and other development needs of the local communities around the river basin.
- To generally stimulate the economic development in southern Africa, namely Angola, Botswana and Namibia, as well as the region around the river basin.
“I was proud to be the author of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act of 2004,” Royce said. “With that act, we saw that increased coordination across national borders can be successful in protecting critical landscapes and combating poaching threats. The DELTA Act looks to build on these proven successes.”
Learn more about the Okavango delta in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.