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Environmental pollution: Prince Harry condemns Kavango oil drilling in Namibia

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

In an opinion article published in the Washington Post, Britain’s Prince Harry warned that the ongoing oil drilling in Namibia’s Kavango regions would lead to irreversible and devastating damage to the environment which supports the livelihoods of more than one million people.

He said the search for oil would only enrich a few.

The article was co-written by Reinhold Mangundu, a Namibian environmental scientist and activist, and was published on Thursday.

Canadian oil exploration company ReconAfrica is currently drilling for oil in the protected area that supplies the Okavango Delta with water.

The drilling exploration licence is for an area on the banks of the Okavango River in the newly proclaimed Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, also called the Kaza Park.

In a region already facing exploitation, poaching, and wildfires, the risk of environmental harm from drilling and plowing new roads through the wilderness is even higher, Prince Harry and Mangundu pointed out.

“Knowing the above, why would you be drilling for oil in such a place?” they asked.

According to them, there is no way to repair the damage from “mistakes” such as these.

“Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few. It represents a continued investment in fossil fuels instead of renewable energies,” the article said.

Prince Harry, late Princess Diana’s younger son, has visited Namibia and Botswana several times.

“The Okavango River Basin is under siege by ReconAfrica . . ,” Prince Harry and Mangundu wrote.

A series of six National Geographic articles published since last year has highlighted serious concerns about the oil-drilling development in the Kavango regions, including the possibility of groundwater pollution, and a lack of community consultation in accordance with Namibian law.

A whistleblower has alleged that the company has misled its own investors in violation of United States laws, and that ReconAfrica was working without the required water permits.

The prince and Mangundu argue that the Okavango Delta is a significant environmental asset.

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