The 14 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are due to leap at their future challenges at the upcoming River Basin Organization (RBO) workshop to try to avoid future inter- state conflicts as they look forward to developmental issues.
The two-day workshop, to be attended by all members of the shared water resources commission from the region, will brainstorm on pre-emptive water sharing conflicts and how best to use water as a natural resource for developmental purposes. The move comes at a time when some of the countries in the sub-region are expected to face critical water shortage by 2025 and beyond.
“This, therefore, makes it imperative for countries to cooperate very closely in the management, equitable utilization and development of the water resources in these shared river basins for attainment of mutual benefits for all the people of the region,” deputy- Executive Secretary for SADC, Joao Caholo, said.
Caholo was speaking at a press briefing aimed at highlighting issues to be discussed at the upcoming two-day workshop running from Monday to Tuesday next week.
The envisaged shortage in most of the sub- regional states is expected to negatively affect industrial development, agriculture, hydropower generation, basic water supply and sanitation at a time when the African region is struggling to lift itself from poverty.
Over the past decade, SADC member states have implemented a raft of measures aimed at bringing a coordinated and judicious management and development of shared watercourses in the region.
They included the signing of the landmark protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the SADC Region in 1995 and the establishment of a dedicated water sector as an area of cooperation by all SADC member states in 1996 ÔÇô and, later, integrated into the Directorate of Infrastructure and Services, through the recently undertaken restructuring of SADC institutions.
Some of the activities include the development of a Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resource Management and Development in the SADC Region in 1998 and mobilization of the funds from the SADC region in 1998 and mobilization of the funds from the ICPs.
The strategic Action had a very strong focus on establishment of shared watercourses management arrangements such as RBO, thus creating an enabling environment for cooperation.
Some of the important developments included the review and refocusing of the Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) into a new RSAP2 in 2005 and arrangements such as the Joint Water Commissions, Joint Technical Committees and Permanent Technical Committees.
Caholo also pointed out that one of the main objectives of the workshop is to afford the various river basin organizations in the region the opportunity to meet together and share experiences on their establishment, institutional development and capacity building, strategic programmes and action plans, financial sustainability, information management of their shared resources.
“This will, in turn, give SADC the opportunity to identify jointly with the basin stakeholders and players issues that can best be dealt with and facilitated by SADC, as a regional institution, and agree on how this assistance can be harnessed to strengthen these newly formed institutions,” Caholo added.
“The workshop will be organized into plenary sessions and break away groups and the main result of the workshop will be a strategy to support the strengthening of RBO by SADC and its cooperating partners,” he said.
Caholo said it will feed into and assist in the implementation of the RSAP2, which is an integral part of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISPD).