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  • SADC Water Sector

    Water resources of Southern Africa are vital for sustainable economic and social development of the region. The resources are critical for meeting the basic needs related to water supply for domestic, industrial and agricultural requirements and for sanitation and waste management for over 250 million people.

    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.

    Within the SADC Secretariat, responsibility for increasing and facilitating cooperation in Water lies with the Water Division.

    Background of the Programme

    The Water Division falls under the Directorate for Infrastructure and Services and is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the implementation of regional water related activities in close collaboration with the member states of SADC under the guidance of the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses (2000), which was first ratified in 1988 and revised in 2000.

    The Protocol, through the Division aims to promote co-ordinated co-operation in the management, protection and utilisation of Shared Watercourses and to advance the SADC agenda of regional integration and poverty alleviation.

    Overall Goal

    To contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of people in the SADC region through promoting co-operation in all water matters in the region for sustainable and equitable development, proper usage, and management of water resources. 


    To ensure that water in Southern Africa becomes a sustainable resource through the coordinated management, protection, and equitable use of its shared watercourses. 

    Key Thematic Areas/Programme Priorities

    The SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) for Integrated Water Resources Development and Management is the SADC Water Sector’s implementation plan. It gives practical effect to the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses.

     The SADC Water sector is currently coordinating implementation of the third phase of the Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Management and Development (RSAP) 2011-2015. 

    RSAP 3 (2011-2015) focuses on three strategic areas:

    • Water governance,
    • Infrastructure development and
    • Water management.

    Within each of these areas activities are identified which contribute to the achievement of three strategic objectives: capacity development, climate change adaptation and social development.


    The Achievements of the SADC Water Sector are documented through its previous Regional Strategic Action Plans (RSAP) on Integrated Water Resources and Management.  

    RSAP 1 was implemented over the period 1999-2004. Its main focus was to create and establish an enabling environment for the integrated management of water resources in the region in support of the achievement of other regional objectives. SADC prioritized and implemented 31 of the 44 projects. 

    Projects of RSAP 1 fall in the categories of:

    • Legislation, Policy and Strategic Planning
    • Capacity building and training
    • Awareness Creation, Consultation and Public Participation
    • Information Collection, Analysis, Management and Dissemination and Improved National and Trans boundary River Basin Management, Planning and Co-ordination.
    • Infrastructure Investment, and
    • Stand Alone – Special Priority Areas

    RSAP 2 (2005-2010) focused on water and development through projects and initiatives in the four main areas of:

    • Regional Water Resources management, planning and development (assessment, monitoring, planning, operation)
    • Infrastructure Development Support (Regional Strategic Water Infrastructure
    • Development Programme (RSWIDP)
    • Water Governance (implementation of Protocol, stakeholder participation, implementation of policy and strategy)
    • Capacity Building (skills training, academic IWRM training and research, support to SADC WD, strengthening RBOs)

    SADC Water Information Sharing Hub

    Through 2012 and 2013, with support from the GIZ Transboundary Water Management in SADC Programme, SADC Water Division embarked on a project to develop a system to support sharing of vital water related information across the Southern African region. The ‘SWISH’ is an exchange hub that acts as a conduit for water-related news, events and documents, also providing access to a unified water glossary. In order to engage with the SWISH, partners simply need to add RSS capabilities to the news, calendar and document libraries of their websites. These information feeds are then integrated into the SWISH and made available to anyone wishing to either view them, or integrate the information into their website. In turn, partners are then able to display SWISH information on their websites. Feeds from the SWISH can be filtered to enable partners to display the thematic or geographic information that is relevant to their stakeholders.

    Access the SWISH

    • SWISH News

      Access to the SADC Water Information Sharing Hub News feed, integrating news from the Interpress Service Southern Africa Water Wire, River Basin Organisations, and NGOs across the Southern African region.

      Read More
    • SWISH Events

      Access to SADC Water Information Sharing Hub Event listings, integrating calendar events from a wide range of SADC Water Sector Stakeholders. Ideal for planning an event to avoid busy points in the regional meeting schedule.

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    • SWISH Documents

      Access to the SADC Water Information Sharing Hub Document Repository, providing links to documents from a wide range of SADC Water Sector Stakeholders, including River Basin Organisations, NGOs and research agencies.

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    • SWISH Water Glossary

      Access to the SADC Water Information Sharing Hub Water Glossary, providing access to definitions of over 900 water-related terms.

      Read More


    Links to Relevant Websites

    Relevant Documentation

    Contact Information

    Dr. Patrice K. Kabeya | Senior Programme Officer- Water |

    Directorate of Infrastructure and Services (INS)

    Southern African Development Community (SADC)| Plot 54385 New CBD

    Private Bag 0095 Gaborone, BOTSWANA| Tel: +267 395 1863