SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP)

GWP SA has since its inception, supported the implementation of the SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP). The RSAP is implemented through a series of short-term water sector programmes on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management. The RSAP is the framework for action to achieve the sustainable development of water resources in the region through the development of water infrastructures on the basis of sound water governance and water management. To date, there have been four iterations of the RSAP, as described below:


The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Regional Strategic Action Plan (IV) on Integrated Water Resources Management (2016-2020) was approved in September, 2015. This programme benefits all the 15 SADC countries in the region to drive and contribute towards initiatives in the region that promote water resource management.

The fourth phase of the SADC Water Programme was formulated on the basis of an open process of collaborative thinking, decision-making and inputs from stakeholders at all levels. This is the culmination of a long process, under the SADC Water Division, supported by the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA). The Strategy’s objective is to unlock the potential for water (and related resources) to play its role as an engine and catalyst for socio-economic development through water infrastructure development and management to support water supply and sanitation, energy, food security, and security from water related disasters with the ultimate goal of contributing towards peace and stability, industrialisation, regional integration and poverty eradication”.  

The Strategy presents a target and ambition for SADC to particularly address challenges relating to the water & energy crisis in the Region; Rainfall Distribution; Regional transmission in the region by addressing the following issues which were brought out by stakeholders during the formulation of the RSAP IV:

  • Human Right to Water
  • Nexus Approaches
  • Industrialisation, Climate Change Issues (Indigenous & Local Knowledge systems)
  • Water Quality Issues
  • UN Groundwater Articles
  • Improved Involvement of the Youth in Programme Implementation
  • More Focused Water Research for development
  • Gender Mainstreaming and youth engagement in the Water Sector
  • Establishment & Strengthening of Oceanic States Cooperation And Shared Watercourse Institutions (SWIs) In Mainland SADC
  • Special consideration was also given to indigenous knowledge and citizen science as sustainable solutions.

SADC initiated the consultative process towards the formulation of the RSAP IV in 2014, during which GWPSA and Partners contributed to the development of workshops. The role of facilitation and provision of an open platform that GWPSA together with its country partners provided was noted at various levels of the formulation process.

The formulation of the RSAP IV began as early as July 2014 during the RSAP III mid-term review. This was followed by a number of conceptualisation workshops from September 2014 to August 2015 through key workshops such as the SADC River Basin Organisation Workshop, Water Sector Reference Group (WSRG), and the SADC Water Weeks. GWP, with the support of SADC planned and organized the SADC Water weeks in all 15 countries, with the main goal of seeking inputs from the member states into the drafting of the Regional Strategic Action Plan IV (RSAP IV). In each country, the programme consisted of a youth forum held in parallel to media training on the 1st day. Thereof the national consultations were held on the 2nd and 3rd day. The engagement with the government in each member state was a prerequisite and played a huge role in the awareness raising and buy-in of country contributions to the strategy.

The broader areas of the Strategy were approved in June 2015 by the Water Resources Technical Committee (WRTC), during their first sitting to review the concept. A number of drafting sessions were held in June/ July 2015 comprising regional experts from the region. A major incorporation of the drafting process involved the various input from the youth that attended the 15 country youth forums.

The validation of the draft Strategy was made during a session at the SADC Multi-Stakeholder Water Dialogue held on 29-30 September, 2015. Bringing in a multi sectorial audience, the dialogue was the last consultation meeting of the RSAP IV draft which was approved at an extraordinary meeting a day after the dialogue by the WRTC, which is the designated authority on water governance in the SADC region.



The RSAP III was implemented from 2011 – 2015. The RSAP III, builds on the progresses made by the RSAP I and II, and served as a work plan to guide the development and implementation of activities in the SADC water sector for the period 2011-2015. It was anchored in the SADC vision and the Southern African Vision on Water, Life and Environment. It was further designed to provide an effective and dependable framework contributing to poverty reduction, regional integration, peace and security and socio-economic development.

The goal of RSAP III was to strengthen the enabling environment for regional water resources governance, management and development through the application of integrated water resources management at the regional, river basin, Member State and community levels.

The RSAP III was designed to provide a programmatic approach to facilitate the implementation of the Protocol on Shared Watercourses through the application of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). GiZ, on behalf of the governments of Germany (BMZ), Australia (AusAid) and the United Kingdom (UKAid) is supporting the implementation of the Transboundary Water Resources Management Programme Phase III in SADC.


In the RSAP III, GWP SA was an implementing agent in delivering components of Programme 4 – Awareness and Communication; Programme 5 – Research and Education; and Programme 6 – Stakeholder Participation in IWRM. GWP SA’s support for the implementation of the SADC Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Water Sector (CCASWS) is noted also in Programme 15 on Climate Change Adaptation.



During the implementation of the RSAP II, GWP SA was instrumental in ensuring stakeholder involvement in the development of the SADC Regional Water Policy and Strategy and also provided and coordinated regional expertise in their formulation. Through this, much awareness was raised on the importance of IWRM and a number of countries in the region incorporated IWRM in their water sector reforms. GWP Country Water Partnerships also facilitated the implementation of IWRM planning processes in a number of countries in the region and continues to monitor the countries’ status on IWRM/Water Efficiency (WE) Planning for GWP SA. Working with WaterNet, capacity development was carried out to support the IWRM planning teams. The regional water partnership throughout its history has provided inputs to processes driven by SADC. Refer to the RSAP III


In 1999 GWP SA supported SADC in the development of the Southern Africa Vision for Water, Life and the Environment. During this period, SADC National Water Weeks were held in all the countries in the region and these were facilitated by GWP SA. In the RSAP I, GWP SA was charged with raising public awareness on IWRM and driving stakeholder participation. This coincided with the establishment of multi-stakeholder platforms at the country level – Country Water Partnerships (CWPs) in the 12 SADC mainland states.