Mozambique and Zimbabwe collaborate on governance and sustainable management of the Buzi, Pungwe, and Save Shared Watercourses

Mozambique and Zimbabwe share at least five river basins, namely Limpopo, Zambezi, Pungwe, Buzi, and Save. The last three basins, collectively known as BUPUSA, are exclusively shared by the two countries. Water resources planning, development, and sustainable management of projects in the BUPUSA basins rely on cooperation between the two countries. To ensure this, the Mozambican and Zimbabwean Governments established the Buzi Pungwe Save watercourse Commission (BUPUSACOM) through the BUPUSA Establishment Agreement, which was signed in May 2023. The Commission consists of four organs, which are the Council of Ministers, the Technical Committee, the Taskforce Teams, and the Secretariat.

The Council of Ministers, comprising of the Ministers responsible for water resources from the two governments, is the supreme decision-making body of the Commission.

The Technical Committee, made up of senior officials from the two governments, implements policies and decisions made by the Council and develops strategic plans for the three watercourses for recommendations to the Council for approval. This is done with the technical support of the Secretariat.

The Secretariat, led by an Executive Secretary, is the administrative body of the Commission, responsible for overseeing the planning, development, and management of the water resources within the three River Basins.

The BUPUSA Secretariat is currently hosted by the Mozambican Government for the first 15 years as stipulated in the BUPUSA Hosting Agreement of 2023.

Critical to coordinated cooperation and joint utilization of the water resources in the BUPUSA basins are the water-sharing agreements between the two countries. The Pungwe Water Sharing Agreement was signed in 2016, while the Buzi and Save accords were signed in 2019 and 2023, respectively.

In the implementation of these water sharing Agreements, the Commission is governed by the general principles of international water conventions the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses (2000) and national laws and policies in the two Member States. The SADC Protocol calls for the need to establish river basin institutions, such as river basin commissions, joint water commissions, and water-sharing agreements. The Commission also commits to adopt the necessary measures, policies, strategies, programmes, and projects to eliminate discrimination and achieve gender equality and equity.

Land cover map of the, Buzi, Pungwe and Save basins

The BUPUSA basins are prone to extreme hydro-metrological events (floods and droughts). Human activities in the basins are also on the rise, causing damage to the environment as well as deteriorating the water quality.

Through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) - funded Management of Competing Water Uses and Associated Ecosystems in Pungwe, Buzi, and Save Basins project, the Mozambican and Zimbabwean governments are being supported in the conservation, sustainable use, and risk mitigation of the BUPUSA basins’ water resources and promotion of holistic approaches using the water-energy-food nexus, with a specific interest in connected ecosystems. The project is being implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) as the regional executing agency.   

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