GNF - Community Engagement in the Cubango-Okavango District

Community Engagement in the Cuando-Cubango District

Community Engagement in Angola to alleviate Poverty and work towards a shared Transboundary Okavango River System



The Okavango Delta was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014 for its exceptional biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and scenic values. Most of the river system comes from headwaters in Angola, passing through Namibia on its way to Botswana's Okavango Delta which is dependent on these upstream waters. At the political level plans to protect shared Okavango waters is advancing, there is work needed for stakeholder consultation and awareness raising, in particular with communities in the river basin.


Key threats in South-East Angola include habitat change, food insecurity, subsistence farming problems, erosion and declining soil fertility. In addition, there are still massive negative effects of the almost three decades of civil war and the resulting traumas and social displacement, which are accompanied by poverty in many rural areas. The relocation of agricultural production due to poor soil fertility and seed quality, insufficient advice and lack of access to finance is part of the vicious circle of rural impoverishment. Poverty and food insecurity, combined with unproductive agricultural practices, have threatened and degraded available natural resources in an unsustainable way. This is exacerbated by the use of firewood and charcoal as an energy resource and the problems of "bush meat" as a source of protein and money.


The livelihoods of the communities in the Cubango-Okavango Basin suffer from these environmental and social grievances combined with aggravation by poor education and training opportunities. The project will help target groups through the provision of information, capacity building opportunities and two pilot reforestation projects which will be an example of restoring ecological balance, and will contribute to maintaining agriculture and improving food security. The designation of the region as a UNESCO World Heritage Site will support these approaches.

Project Goals

In the framework of the project, ACADIR, an Angolan non-governmental organisation, will reach target groups in the catchment area of the Cubango-Okavango River in the remote region of South-East Angola. In three villages (Mucusso, Savate, Caiundo) a total of 190 households with a total of 1,115 people from marginalised rural ethnic minorities are defined as direct beneficiaries. The people will be better informed about their rights and their opportunities for water use in the transboundary Okavango river system and will be involved in a campaign to protect the common waters in the Okavango river system in Angola, Namibia and Botswana through the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.


Concrete pilot projects on ecologically sustainable agriculture and sustainable forestry will improve people's livelihoods, mainly via the availability of tools, improved food security through training in afforestation and agricultural measures, lower risk exposure due to lower erosion risks, fire risk reduction and less overgrazing. Another aim is to extend the Okavango World Heritage designation to relevant parts of the water catchment area in Angola.

Project Measures

A series of activities, with the main objective of knowing the communities and building their capacities, will be carried out. Some of the most representative actions are:

  • A socio-economic study on the needs of the communities in the project area of the Cubango-Okavango region to understand the initial situation and the problems of these communities.
  • Development of income-generating activities:
  1. Education and training of local groups to develop and manage a conservation agriculture pilot project model.
  2. Training of local groups in activities such as maintenance of rehabilitated areas, fire-fighting, planting.
  3. Education, training, workshops as capacity building activities for local groups. Training of teachers in workshops in the two target villages on hydrology, climate change and conservation of community land.


A series of more political activities will also be carried out, like the dialogue between all interested actors and the authorities, with the ultimate aim of moving towards the appointment of a transboundary UNESCO Okavango World Heritage Site.

Main Funder

 German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
 Okavango Delta - Birds Eye View 
 Project Team Visit in Mucusso - June 2022
 Conservation Agriculture has increased the Maize production in Mucusso. © GNF
 Planting indigenous tree species is part of the project
 Planting onions in Savate
© K. Ross
 Making organic fertilizer
© K. Ross
 Savate Team 
© K. Ross
 The South of Angola is still suffering from the aftermath of the conflict.
© U. Gattenloehner
 Elephants are wonderful animals - but we must solve conflicts with humans.
© U. Gattenloehner
 Elephant-Human-Conflict is an issue in Mucusso, when the elephants feed on community crops.
© U. Gattenloehner


 Environmental Action Germany (DUH)

Statements from project experts from ACADIR, KCS and GNF 

Interview with Daniel

Katanga, ACADIR Angola

 Interview with Daniel Katanga, ACADIR Angola

Interview with Lources

Conceicao, ACADIR Angola

 Interview Lourdes from ACADIR Angola

Interview with Antonio

Chipita, ACADIR Angola

 Interview with Antonio Chipita, ACADIR

Interview with Noel

Valentino, ACADIR Angola

 Interview with Noel Valentino from ACADIR Angola

Interview with Dr Karen

Ross, KCS Botswana

 Interview with Dr. Karen Ross from KCS Botswana

Statement Udo Gattenlöhner,

GNF Germany

 Statement Udo Gattenlöhner, GNF

Project Partners

ACADIR is an Angolan rural development NGO which has already implemented and managed more than 20 projects in the province of Cuando-Kubango in south-eastern Angola and in the Kwando and Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. ACADIR is the coordinating implemtation partner in this project. 


 ACADIR (Associação de Conservação do Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Integrado Rural)

The Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) is the oldest non-governmental organisation in the field of environment and nature conservation in Botswana focusing on the protection of wildlife, environmental education and the development of local communities.

 Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS)


ACADIR - Associação de Conservação do Ambiente
e Desenvolvimento Integrado Rural

P.O. BOX 34, Menongue Cuando-Cubango, Angola

Rua 1º de Maio- Menongue, Angola

Director: António Chipita


KCS - Kalahari Conservation Society

P.O.Box 859, Plot 398 Kgasa Rd, Gaborone, Botswana

Project Coordinator: Dr. Karen Ross



GNF - Global Nature Fund - Office Radolfzell, Germany

Udo Gattenlöhner, E-mail:


Project Period:


Project Countries:


Project Partners:




Main Funder: 




1 December 2020 – 31 December 2022


Angola and Botswana


ACADIR (Associação de Conservação do Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Integrado Rural);

Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS)


German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)


Environmental Action Germany (DUH)

Download the Comic Book "River Cousins" in Portuguese


Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The project should make a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

 Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
 Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
 Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development