Navigating Unfamiliar waters at Oxfam Novib: The case of the Limpopo Basin


from TU Delft following the university Honours program had the opportunity to
work on a project with Oxfam Novib. Oxfam Novib would like to make an impact on
the water security concerns in the Limpopo basin in Africa. Hence the students
were asked to come up with strategies in order to approach three key players
who might have an impact on this issue – The Dutch water sector, institutional
donors and investors and the Dutch general audience. I along with 4 other
students – Pedro Martin Salvador,
Easwaran Krishnamurthy, Panogiotis Kolios and Lore Keijzers worked on strategies for institutional donors and

 Oxfam Novib’s goal on the Fair Sharing of Natural Resources ties
in to Oxfam’s concern with water security as it is important for a lot of
people with whom Oxfam works e.g. farmers, forest communities and fisher folk.
Furthermore there are huge opportunities in this field as the Dutch water
sector has a lot of experience with water management. Additionally there are
quite a few funding opportunities available both in Europe and outside to bring
better water governance and fair water sharing to affected communities


Photo Credit:

Limpopo basin is located in Southern Africa and covers an area of 416,296 km2,
spreading over four countries: Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
A large share of the basin lies in South Africa (45%) while the rest is divided
roughly equally between Botswana (19%), Mozambique (21%), and Zimbabwe (15%).
The basin has a population of approximately 14 million, evenly divided between
rural (52%) and urban (48%) areas.

scarcity is increasing in the Limpopo basin. The water scarce and climatic
situation is severely affecting local communities in the basin that are highly
dependent on water for their food security, income and health. Therefore there
is an urgent need to adapt land and water management systems to changing
climate patterns. This calls for a better use of water resources, the development
of climate resilient livelihood systems that reduce land degradation and make
better use of rainfall.

Novib wants to implement water management solutions which are not dependant on
technical measures alone. These solutions also require water governance and
policies to address the complexity of trans-boundary water issues and enhance
the participation of local people who are now often excluded in decision-making
processes. Financial and legal arrangements have to be organized, governance and
political responsibilities must be addressed, the right competencies, skills
and knowledge must be made available, and stakeholder participation must be

Our objective

objective of this exercise was to investigate various institutional donors and
investors in order to analyze any and all water based financing programs they
might be having which could be relevant to the Limpopo basin case study.
Furthermore, we translated this analysis into a business case for specific
examples of institutional donors/investors where the overall approach was
outlined in detail. Finally, we also designed and delivered an overall
communications package meant to aid Oxfam Novib in approaching the key players
with strategies which would aid in securing their participation.

The approach we took:

this project, we carried out an analysis of potential investors for deducing
some general criteria which investors might use in their investments and thus
this can be used as a unified approach towards other potential investors.
Similarly, we carried out another analysis for institutional donors in order to
identify what issues might interest them and how could they be tied to the
problems prevalent in the Limpopo basin.

criteria for investors along with the concepts used by donors can then be
compared with Oxfam strengths and skills in order to identify which key
capabilities Oxfam can capitalize in order to secure funding for water
management efforts in the Limpopo basin.


conclusion, four cases were presented with a view to elucidate the different
approaches to be taken for each case. A few companies for the Corporate Social
Responsibility angle were suggested with Nestle being the case study of a
private donor. In the public donor case, the African
Water Fund
was considered. The
International Finance Corporation and the World Bank Group case studies were
presented with example projects. Finally, the Sustainable Water Fund as a public-private partnership was looked into.

Doing this project was
a unique experience for all of us. It required navigating unfamiliar waters
since the project itself was of a very non-technical nature. This is something
none of us were very experienced at. Furthermore the cultural diversity in the
group always makes it challenging (albeit interesting) to come together and
deliver a coherent and competent project. Moreover, this project gave us a chance to get
acquainted with the work done by Oxfam Novib and the positive impact it has on
the lives of so many people. It was a great feeling for us that we could
contribute, however little, to make a difference in people’s lives.

Click here to read more about Oxfam Novib’s work in the Limpopo Basin


One thought on “Navigating Unfamiliar waters at Oxfam Novib: The case of the Limpopo Basin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s