Transboundary: IWRM implementation at Pungwe River Basin in Zimbabwe and Mozambique (#333)

The Pungwe River basin offers significant opportunity for economic growth for Mozambique. The rate of economic success depends to a great extent on the implementation of IWRM. Action was taken to assess the progress of IWRM using a set of indicators addressing relevant areas. It became evident that implementing IWRM takes time and in order to reach success, implementation of IWRM has to follow the pace that can be adopted by all involved parties. 

The Pungwe River flows from the Eastern Highlands in Zimbabwe into Mozambique and drains into the Indian Ocean. The total catchment area is 31,151 km2 of which only 4.7% lies within Zimbabwean territory.

The river basin, with its abundant water resources, offers considerable potential for economic growth and development provided problems and constraints on water resources management can be solved. For the Mozambican part of the river basin the regional water authority, ARA-Centro, thus is a key for economical growth. Much relies on how well ARA-Centro, together with other governmental authorities, succeeds to implement IWRM in collaboration with the stakeholders of the river basin.

Action taken

The case study used IWRM indicators developed by Cap-Net both to test the indicators and to assess progress with IWRM in the Pungwe basin.

The water managers in the basin found that the indicators were very relevant to assess progress. Implementation of IWRM in the Pungwe River basin has taken the first important steps since the establishment of ARA-Centro in 1998.

The enabling environment through national laws and policies is in place and concrete activities occur, such as licensing of surface water users and participation of stakeholders through an established basin committee. On the other hand, there are many further steps to take. Presently the implementation is not judged to have reached halfway.

Essential parts of IWRM are missing, such as water allocation criteria that take into account efficiency and economic benefits and sufficient funding of the IWRM activities through water fees or the polluter-pays-principle. 
The indictors addressed: water allocation, pollution management, basin planning, monitoring, economic and financial management, information management, stakeholder participation, and floods and drought issues.

Lessons learned

The experience of implementing IWRM in the Pungwe River basin has shown that the need for central funds is essential when establishing an RBO and starting to implement IWRM.

It is not until stakeholders have acknowledged IWRM and functioning water allocation, polluter-pays-principle and collection systems are in place, that revenue from users and polluters will be sufficient for the operational cost of IWRM. Furthermore, even if the financial resources are there, IWRM takes time to implement.

The principles of IWRM are not easily adopted by everyone and capacity building takes time to be sustainable. Therefore, implementation of IWRM has to follow the pace that can be adopted by all involved parties, both authorities and stakeholders.

The Pungwe experience has also shown that cross-sectoral coordination between different governmental bodies is fundamental for implementation of IWRM and needs to be improved.

It is basically impossible for the regional water authority to have responsibility and capacity to deal with all aspects of IWRM. The RBO must therefore act as a strong stakeholder in its relation with other ministries important for IWRM.

Using the indicators ARA-Centro identified work priorities for the coming period to improve the implementation of the IWRM approach.