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Climate Change and Adaptation in SADC

Climate Change and Adaptation in SADC

Policy Spotlight: Water Resources Management in SADC

The changing climatic conditions have affected water availability in many parts of Southern Africa. Severe droughts that have been experienced in recent years have affected availability of surface, ground and rainfall water. This has negatively affected different sectors such as agriculture and industry. Challenges associated with water scarcity and quality called for SADC to coordinate establishment of the action plans for integrated development and management of water resources since the 1990s. Water management in SADC is placed within the Water Sector where some structures specialise in different tasks for water management and governance. These responsibilities include policy development and implementation of programmes and projects. For instance, the SADC Council of Ministers provides policy directions and oversees project implementations, while water ministers monitor and implement regional strategic action plans. For example, the ministers of water met in Windhoek, Namibia on the 24 May 2019 to review progress made in implementing the projects and programmes under the Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) IV, and other programmes and projects implemented by Water Commissions affiliated to SADC[58]. SADC water ministers also solve the possible conflicts on shared watercourses and provide advice to council on policies to be followed[59]. Furthermore, the SADC ministers of water work in collaboration with the African Ministerial Conference on Water to manage water resources on the continent.

Implementation of water programmes and projects is done by the SADC Secretariat through the RSAPs. The RSAPs are established mainly to ensure implementation of the water protocol on shared watercourses through Integrated Water Resources Management. This is done by coordinating water management programmes and projects as well as their monitoring and evaluation. Monitoring of RSAP programmes and projects is meant to ensure that funds allocated for their implementation are used effectively, and to ensure that the projects achieve the desired objectives[60].

RSAP I (1999-2004) on integrated water resources development and management became operational in 1998. The recent RSAP III (2011-2015) focuses mainly on the three important strategic areas for water resources; governance, infrastructure development and water management[61]. These strategic areas are developed to meet one of the RSAP III strategic objectives, which is achievement of climate change adaptation[62]. The strategic areas of the current RSAP IV (2016-2020) are similar to those of the RSAP III. Although there are different programmes implemented under the RSAP IV to meet the strategic objectives, the priority is on programme 5 which is about infrastructure development[63]. There are some important programmes for water management under the RSAP IV. For example, programme 6 of the RSAP IV looks at the most critical part on water management and governance, which is water resources management for sustainable development. The objective of this programme is to assure sustainable water utilisation through people centred adaptive management strategies[64].

The RSAPs are the main mechanisms used for implementation of programmes on shared watercourses in the region. However, the 2005 SADC Water Policy plays an imperative role in providing guidance on the use, management and governance of water resources. The policy advocates integrated water management[65]. This is meant to ensure a collaborative effort in water resources management in the region. Participation of different stakeholders such as NGOs, private sector and other civil society organisations are considered very important in water management and governance. The collaborative approach in water management is meant for both national and regional economic integration[66].

Some of the River Basin watercourses are infested with some alien plant species that compromise the quality of water and contribute to extinction of some aquatic resources[67]. This challenge is experienced in some of the eight River Basin Water Commissions in the region. However, the he River Basin Commissions are striving to provide quality and ensure equity in distribution of water resources. For instance, one of the strategic objectives of the Zambezi River Basin Commission (ZAMCOM) is to promote equitable distribution and sustainable management of shared water resources in the Zambezi watercourse[68]. The ZAMCOM 2008 Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy emphasizes control of water pollution and elimination of aquatic weeds to assure good quality water[69]. On the other hand, the ZAMCOM (2018-2040) Strategic Plan put focus on climate change monitoring and disaster risk management for water management[70].

Water governance and management follow a holistic approach in the SADC region. SADC Water Sector works together with affiliated Water Commissions for water resources management. The Water Commissions use Water Protocol on shared watercourses as a guiding framework for use, and protection of shared watercourses[71]. The affiliated Water Commissions work in collaboration with the SADC secretariat to manage water resources in the region. For instance, SADC water ministers met in Angola on 27-30 May 2013 to review the progress made in implementing the Okavango, Limpopo, Orange-Senqu, Save, Ruvuma, Zambezi, Kunene, Cuvelai, Maputo and Pungwe watercourses[72].

There is duplication of activities between SADC Water Sector and River Basin Commissions. For example, both SADC and River Basin Commissions have developed strategic plans that are used for water management and governance through implementation of projects and programmes. Furthermore, there is also an overlap in focus between SADC Water Sector and River Basin Commissions. The RSAP II and RSAP IV put climate change adaptation on the agenda. On the same note, the ZAMCOM (2018-2040) Strategic Plan also focuses on climate change monitoring. The overlap and duplication of activities can be minimized by centralising some of the activities to SADC Secretariat. In this case, implementation of water projects and programmes in the region should follow the SADC’s Regional Strategic Action Plans. In addition, strategic plans of different water commissions should be informed by SADC’s RSAPs. Using SADCs RSAPs as a guiding policy document can minimise the possible overlaps and duplication of activities between these institutions.

Deteriorating water availability and quality has called for SADC Secretariat to develop different measures for water resources management and governance. These strategies include water protocol, regional strategic action plans on integrated water resources development and management and water policy. All these strategies emphasise water resource management and governance as a strategy of achieving climate change adaptation. Although water management in the region is the responsibility of SADC Water Sector, the Water Commissions have developed some strategic plans parallel to those of SADC. Their programmes and projects overlap with those of the regional development body. This challenge can be solved by harmonising the Water Commissions’ strategic plans so that they align with those of SADC. In this way, duplication of efforts, especially projects and programmes can be rectified. Use of SADC’s RSAPs can also make sure that the Water Commissions effectively implement the SADC Water Policy.

By Tsepiso Rantso and Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo


[58] SADC 2019d. Statement: SADC Joint Meeting of Ministers of Energy and for Water held in Windhoek, Namibia on 24th May 2019, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 25 February 2020].
[59] SADC 2011. Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management (2011 – 2015): RSAP III, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 10 January 2020].
[60] SADC 2011. Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management (2011 – 2015): RSAP III, ibid.
[61] SADC 2011. Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management (2011 – 2015): RSAP III, ibid.
[62] IPS Africa n.d. IPS Africa Training Handout: Integrated Water Resources Management, Inter Press Service: Rome. Available At: http://www.ipsnews.net/ [Last Accessed: 3 January 2020].
[63] SADC 2016b. Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Phase IV, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 16 January 2020].
[64] SADC 2016b. Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Phase IV, ibid.
[65] SADC 2005. Regional Water Policy, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 3 January 2020].
[66] SADC 2005. Regional Water Policy, ibid.
[67] SADC 2006. Regional Water Strategy, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 3 January 2020].
[68] ZAMCOM n.d. Strategic Plan for Zambezi Watercourse, Zambezi River Basin Commission: Harare. Available At: http://www.zambezicommission.org/ [Last Accessed: 16 January 2020].
[69] ZAMCOM 2008. Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Zambezi River Basin, Zambesi River Basin Commission: Harare. Available At: http://www.zambezicommission.org/ [Last Accessed: 16 January 2020].
[70] ZAMCOM 2019. Strategic Plan for the Zambezi Watercourse 2018-2040, Zambezi River Basin Commission: Harare. Available At: http://www.zambezicommission.org/ [Last Accessed: 16 January 2020].
[71] SADC 2000. Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses in Southern African Development Community, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 21 February 2020].
[72] SADC 2013. Communique: Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Water on 27-30 May 2013, Alvalade Hotel, Luanda, Angola, Southern African Development Community: Gaborone. Available At: https://www.sadc.int/ [Last Accessed: 25 February 2020].

 

 

The April 2020 issue focuses on assessing the impact of climate change and evaluating the effectiveness of regional systems and national responses to the crisis in SADC – What is the impact of climate change in SADC? How are the top-three worst-affected countries responding? What can be learned from the El Nino drought and cyclones Idai and Kenneth? What is the regional energy generation mix in SADC? What does this reflect in terms of energy investment opportunities in the current climatic conditions in SADC? How are water resources managed and governed in SADC? The PESA Regional Integration Monitor, Apr 2020 examines these questions.

Ken Kalala Ndalamba

Ken is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Serge Basingene Hadisi

Serge is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo

Tsepiso is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Ross Oliver Douglas

Ross is an Editor at PESA.

Charl Swart

Charl is an Editor at PESA.

Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo

Thabo is a Senior Analyst at PESA.

Ken Kalala Ndalamba

Serge Basingene Hadisi

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo

Ross Oliver Douglas

Charl Swart

Thabo Thandokuhle Sacolo

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