River Basin Organisations in SADC region to play an active role in facilitating investment for water, energy and food security

It was during the 8th Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) River Basin Organisations (RBOs) workshop that took place from 8-9th May, 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia that participants recommended that SADC RBOs should play a more active role in facilitating investment for water, energy and food security in the region.

The workshop was organized with the theme “Securing strategic investments to realise the benefits of transboundary water cooperation” and with the objective “to share experiences on how RBOs can play a key role in the basin-wide planning and implementation of investments needed to realise the benefits of transboundary water cooperation”.

SADC Member States have shown strong commitment to transboundary water cooperation as reflected by their continued support to RBO operations. However, RBOs are coming under increasing pressure to demonstrate tangible benefits for the financial contributions made by their Member States and partners – the focus of the workshop.

The SADC RBOs have been set up as, and mandated to be, advisory bodies to the Member States on the sustainable management and development of the shared water resources of transboundary river basins. Their key achievements to date have been in trust and confidence building, conflict avoidance, knowledgebase development, information dissemination, awareness raising, stakeholder involvement, capacity building, joint integrated river basin management and development planning, and creating an enabling environment for investments. They had a limited role in securing and implementing investments.

In Namibia, there was broad consensus in the workshop that RBOs needed to play a greater role in securing strategic investments that would deliver the benefits of transboundary water cooperation and contribute to water, energy and food security of the SADC region. It also came repeatedly that the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach could help the RBOs in moving towards playing an important role of facilitating investment.

During the workshop, Mr. Kidanemariam Jembere of GWP Africa, provided an overview on the European Union financed project on SADC’s Water-Energy-Food Nexus Regional Dialogue and Investment which is being implemented by GWP Southern Africa (GWPSA). The focus was providing updates on the processes and activities that are leading towards developing a SADC Regional WEF Nexus Operational Framework, and a Prioritized List of WEF Nexus Investment Projects. It was made clear that the first phase of the project creates an enabling environment for WEF Nexus investment in the second phase of the project (expected to start in 2020). Mr. Kidanemariam said that the project has identified some of the areas within the SADC Region for application of the WEF Nexus approach. He also mentioned that a draft outline of a SADC WEF Nexus Operational Framework has been prepared.

Mr. Olivier Cogel, Advisor to the EU Regional WEF Nexus Projects, who made a keynote presentation emphasised that RBOs can play a leading role in promoting a comprehensive joint multi-sector investment program aimed at achieving water-energy-food security.

The 8th SADC RBOs workshop, hosted by the Government of Namibia on behalf of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), was successful in providing a platform for detailed interrogation of the role of RBOs in basin-wide planning and implementation of investments needed to realise the benefits of transboundary water cooperation. The workshop was funded by the Federal Republic of Germany in delegated cooperation with the United Kingdom, and implemented by the GiZ. The workshop was organised by the GWPSA on behalf of the SADC Secretariat and OKACOM. It was officially opened by Mr. Percy W. Misika, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry of the Republic of Namibia.