Boundaries of the Basin
The Cubango-Okavango River rises in the headwaters of the Cuito and Cubango-Okavango Rivers in the highland plateau of Angola. The topographic extent of the Cubango-Okavango Basin comprises approximately 700,000 square km, but derives its principal flow from 120,000 square km of sub-humid and semi-arid rangeland in the Cuando Cubango Province of Angola.
The basin is drained by the Cubango (referred to as the Kavango River in Namibia and Okavango River in Botswana), Cutato, Cuchi, Cuelei, Cuebe, Cueio, Cuatir, Luassinga, Longa, Cuiriri and Cuito Rivers and the Okavango Delta. Flowing from the Angolan highlands, the Cuito and Cubango Rivers meet to form the Cubango-Okavango along the border of Namibia and Angola before flowing through the panhandle and spilling into the Okavango Delta or fan in Botswana. The inflow from the delta forms a set of evaporation pans in the Kalahari Desert, principally the Makgadikgadi Pans fed by the Boteti River.
The contributing area of the basin responsible for perennial surface water flow is much smaller than the topographic extent of the basin. In Namibia and Botswana only a part of the basin’s population is directly dependent on surface water resources, while other parts rely on groundwater resources. For the purposes of OKACOM's Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, the geographical scope of the TDA was agreed to be the whole Cubango-Okavango Basin, while noting that the TDA had limitations with some key issues such as groundwater interconnectivity.