In the Southern African Development Community (SADC), water is seen as a source of peace rather than conflict. This was the key message emphasized by SADC’s Director of Infrastructure and Services Mr. Remigious Makumbe during a three-day workshop to Promote Cooperation and Conflict Prevention in Trans boundary Water Resources held from February 25-27, 2013 in Phakalane, Botswana.
The workshop was organized by the SADC Secretariat and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a part of an organisation ( UNESCO) as part of the activities to commemorate this year’s World Water Day whose theme is Water Cooperation.The theme for this year’s World Water Day, commemorated on March 22, coincides with the UN General Assembly Declaration of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation (Resolution A/RES/65/154).
The workshop was attended by decision makers from the Ministries responsible for Water in the SADC Member States, and representatives of River Basin Organizations in the region. The aim of the workshop was to enhance the capacity of high level water decision makers on transboundary water conflict management and cooperation.Participants shared and exchanged sub-regional experiences on water cooperation as well as learnt more about designing and conducting negotiation processes on trans-boundary water-related issues.
Within the SADC region, cooperation is a key component in the regional instruments such as the SADC Treaty, the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ (SIPO).Water cooperation is specifically promoted through the revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses which was first ratified in 1998 and revised in 2003 to foster close and coordinated co-operation in the management, protection and utilization of Shared Watercourses, and to advance the SADC agenda of regional integration and poverty alleviation.
In his welcome remarks to the workshop Mr. Makumbe noted that water was playing a major role in promoting transparency, dialogue and very high degree of cooperation among Member States in SADC.SADC Secretariat Senior Programme Officer for Water, Mr. Phera Ramoeli said the signing and ratification of Watercourse Agreements such as the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), covering Angola, Botswana and Namibia; the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM), covering Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa; the Limpopo Water Commission (LIMCOM) covering Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique; and the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) covering Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe is testimony to the high degree of cooperation and working as one family.
Over 70 per cent of the SADC region’s fresh water resources are shared between two or more Member States, a situation that has been the basis for the development and adoption of a series of regional instruments to support the joint management and development of shared water courses.
The SADC instruments for water cooperation include the Regional Water Policy, adopted in 2005; the Regional Water Strategy adopted in 2006 and Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources and Development Management which was first approved by SADC Summit in August 1998 to run in five-year phases. The SADC Water Division is currently coordinating implementation of the third phase of the Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Management and Development (RSAP) 2011-2015.