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Save the Okavango


Call for a moratorium and public inquiry on oil and gas exploration in the Kavango regions

We, Civil Society Organisations in Namibia, together with regional and international organisations, coalitions and technical experts, are deeply concerned about oil and gas exploratory drilling activities in the Kavango Basin. Most of us have neither been consulted nor given any evidence about how the exploration activities and possible production will affect the lives and human rights of people in Kavango East and West Regions, as well as our precious environment and overall water and food security in Namibia. Too many questions are unanswered, and the irreversible risks look too high for us, and for our children’s future.

We are therefore respectfully calling on the Government of the Republic of Namibia to suspend all oil and gas drilling and establish an independent and impartial Public Commission of Inquiry to critically examine the current and future oil and gas exploration and extraction in the Kavango East and West regions.

Until all Namibians can see credible evidence of the potential impact on their lives, their livelihoods and their inalienable rights, and can consider what are realistic and sustainable alternative strategies for developing Namibia’s energy and the Kavango regions, with particular reference to climate change, the Government should impose a moratorium on those activities.

The Public Commission of Inquiry must:

  • be fully transparent, independent and impartial;
  • be composed of experts covering relevant knowledge drawn equally from both government and civil society/professional associations/academia;
  • assess the risks to the human rights of Namibians, including their right to a safe and sustainable environment;
  • thoroughly examine safe and sustainable alternative energy strategies for Namibia; and
  • ensure respect for the rule of law and the international obligations of Namibia.

Kavango Protest March - May 2021

All concerned Namibians and other Interested Parties must be allowed to:

  • submit information for consideration by the Public Commission;
  • be consulted in their own languages through well-planned and advertised country-wide urban and rural public consultation meetings, in particular accessible to
  • everyone in the Kavango Regions including indigenous San communities;
  • be allowed access to information as and when it is submitted to the Commission; and
  • comment on the draft findings of the Commission before they are finalised.

Earth Day -  March 2022


We, Civil Society Organisations in Namibia, together with regional and international organisations (including UNESCO and IUCN), technical and legal experts, are deeply concerned about oil and gas exploratory drilling activities of ReconAfrica in Namibia. We worry in particular about the foreseeable cumulative impacts of the envisaged production phase of at least 25 years within the world’s largest trans-boundary conservation area (the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, KAZA).

We therefore call for the introduction of a nationwide fracking ban in Namibia!

Despite ReconAfrica’s denial: Fracking is at stake – Cumulative impacts of oil/gas development are irreversible. ReconAfrica has constantly and repeatedly highlighted that their main target is possible unconventional shale resources in the Kavango Basin. These resources cannot be extracted without making use of the controversial fracking technique. The company has even hired –amongst other shale experts – the “father of modern-day fracking”, Nick Steinsberger. ReconAfrica now denies that fracking will play a role in the extraction of the targeted fossil fuels, yet their PR and marketing materials targeting investors tell a different story.

Fracking: How it functions!

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique employed by the oil and gas industry to extract fossil fuels. Millions of litres of water (from drinking water reservoirs, rivers or lakes), mixed with tons of toxic chemicals and silica sand, are pumped deep underground under extreme pressure to crack oil or gas bearing rocks in order to set free so-called “unconventional” fossil fuel resources.

Fracking: Lasting impacts!

More than a decade of large-scale use of fracking has shown how harmful and destructive this extraction process can be, as confirmed and acknowledged by countless peer-reviewed scientific studies. There are numerous proven risks and impacts, such as heavy freshwater consumption, water and soil contamination, and public health impacts. For example, the impact on pregnant women and their babies includes high-risk pregnancies, infertility, miscarriages, preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital heart defects. Fracking also contributes significantly to global warming and climate change.

Water use for fracking operations varies depending on the basin and site, but can be on average up to 20 million litres per well. Water use for fracking in major shale gas and oil production regions increased from 2011 to 2016. The Permian Basin in the USA had the largest increase in water use, from 4.9 million litres per well in 2011 up to 42.5 million litres per well in 2016. ReconAfrica frequently compares the Kavango Basin as being equivalent in size and potential to other unconventional frack plays like the Permian Basin in west Texas and the Eagle Ford Shale Basin in south-central Texas. The impact on water resources in the two Kavango regions and the Okavango Delta will be significant if ReconAfrica is permitted by the government of Namibia to enter the production phase using fracking.

Fracking impacts human rights and contributes to global warming!

After four years of evidence gathering, the judges of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change concluded in 2018 that fracking contributes substantially to global warming and involves massive violations of human rights. In the final Advisory Opinion, the PPT recommended that “fracking should be banned worldwide”. This call for action is echoed elsewhere by UN institutions (such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment entitled “Human rights and the global water crisis”). Many countries around the world have already banned fracking.

Fracking ban required to comply with the Namibian Constitution!

According to Article 95 of the Namibian constitution “the State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future”!

Protest against court fees - 21 Feb 2023


Selling the Okavango video


Save the Okavango

Save the Okavango Call for a moratorium and public inquiry on oil and gas exploration in the Kavango regions

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