from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – SOUTHERN African countries are working on a regional strategic action plan to guide cooperation on and sourcing finance for trans-boundary integrated water sources.
They also aim to foster strong regional ties in a bloc regarded as the most stable in the African continent.
However, the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc faces a myriad of challenges such as climate change, hunger, droughts and malnutrition.
Member states convened the just-concluded ninth SADC River Basin Organisations / Shared Watercourse Institutions (RBOs/SWIs) workshop in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The Zambezi Watercourse Commission, with support from the SADC Secretariat and partners-Global Water Partnership of Southern Africa, Germany Development Cooperation and the United States of America aid Agency (USAID), organized the summit.
SADC countries comprising Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe were represented at the virtual workshop chaired by Zambia.
Mike Mposha, chairman of the RBS/SWIs, said there was a need for consensus building on SADC’s strategic approach.
“This is a very important biennial event initiated by SADC to engage RBOs and SWIs to provide a vehicle for strengthening regional integration and cooperation relating to trans-boundary water resources development, management and international water cooperation,” he said.
Mposha is the Zambian Water Development and Sanitation Minister.
“A regional strategic action plan on integrated water resources management is needed to enhance implementation of the regional water programme which aims at unlocking the potential of water as a catalyst and engine for regional economic growth through cooperation and water resources development and management,” he said.
The theme for this year’s event was: “Promoting Inclusive and Collaborative Trans-boundary Water Financing for Sustainable Industrial Development.
Nchidzi Mmolawa, the Botswana Land Management Water and Sanitation Services Minister, said SADC has made significant achievements in water cooperation in the region.
He said SADC was determined to eradicate poverty in a cooperative way through the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.
“We have forged partnership with a number of technical and financial institutions to assist the RBO’s in developing sustaining programmes for communities living in the basins,” Mmolawa said.
Some of the RBOs are Orange-Senqu and the Okavango river basins.
“The region’s RBOs/SWIs are quite instrumental as agents of peace-building, conflict-resolution and coordinated effort in the
development and management of shared water resources, through ensuring equitable and reasonable utilisation of shared waters,” he said.
The SADC RBOs/SWIs agenda was set in 2006 to engage the transboundary water organisations in helping find solutions to challenges haunting the region.
Water expert, Mike Tumbare, said investment in water was critical for sustainable development.
“Water is at the heart of adaptation as it is critical in agriculture, energy, mining and household,” Tumbare said.
Over 70 percent of SADC’s population of 345 million people depends on groundwater.
– CAJ News