Game changers for transboundary water resources management discussed during South Africa SADC Water Week

The South African Development Community (SADC) in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), and the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) hosted the South Africa SADC Water Week which took place from 29-31 July 2015.

This event created a platform for country focused awareness raising of the SADC regional water programme and other initiatives towards the goal of improving water resources management and development in the region and in South Africa. More importantly the workshop sought to harmonise national and local water management strategies with SADC regional strategies for better water resources management and development.

The workshop took place over a period of three days. The first day of the Water Week focused on engaging with communication officers in the Department of Water and Sanitation and news reporters across various media houses to give them an opportunity to connect with experts and policy makers in the South African and regional water sector, and to give them insight on issues of water governance and integrated water resources management and development. This exercise benefited the media and communications personnel by assisting then to follow the water issues in the country and region, and to ensure effective disseminate of information. Running concurrently with the media training, a National Youth Forum took place on the 29th July, 2015. During the youth session, representatives from several youth networks and organisations in water, environment and sanitation related sectors met to develop a national action plan for mainstreaming youth in these sectors and inform a way forward with regard to their involvement at national and regional level.

The main consultative forum, held on 30-13 July, 2015  focused on key issues relating to cooperation in trans-boundary water resources management development within and beyond the SADC region and also, water financing for management and development resource as well as building local indigenous practices to manage climate change. The consultative forum was officially opened by Ms Lindiwe Lusenga Deputy Director-General: International Water Cooperation, on behalf of the Minister of Water. Ms Lusenga highlighted the importance of transboundary Water Resource Management for South Africa, and the need for the country to move with others in the common vision by riparian states. For South Africa, particular mention was made on the need to support the water sector in strategic engagement towards the achievement of the National Development Plan (NDP);

The various discussions also brought to light various game changers for transboundary water resource management in the region. Discussions pointed to the need for: 

    • Strong SADC with capacitated  watercourses institutions (ORASECOM, LIMPCOM, TPTC, ZAMCOM, etc);
    • Strengthened water and sanitation knowledge base of the watercourses;
    • Strong investment on rural development (change of mind-set) and new ways of funding rural investment driven by PPPs.
    • Gender, youth and disabled persons given entrepreneurship opportunities on infrastructure projects
    • Strengthened SADC Water Division (secondments) to drive the overall regional water and sanitation agenda);
    • Governance models of shared river basins that include stakeholders beyond government officials ;

The event forms part of the work of the SADC directorate of Infrastructure and Services – Water Division programme currently obtaining national input to the fourth stage of the SADC Water Programme. Similar events have been undertaken in all the SADC states – South Africa and Angola being the last states to hold the national consultation.