News and Information

Southern Africa: Commission to Manage Zambezi's Water Resources
July 14, 2004

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

July 14, 2004
Posted to the web July 14, 2004


An eight-country commission to manage and develop the Zambezi river's water resources was launched on Tuesday in the town of Kasane, northern Botswana.

The Zambezi Watercourse Commission, comprising Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe will manage one of the largest watercourse systems in the world, covering a basin area measuring over a million square kilometres with a total annual flow estimated at 40,750 million cubic metres.

Besides managing the Zambezi's resources, the Commission, consisting of three organs - a council of ministers, a technical committee and a secretariat drawn from all eight countries - will advise member countries on planning, utilisation, protection and conservation issues around the longest river in Southern Africa. Country representatives will also protect national interests in actual or potential disputes.

The river flows through western Angola, western and southern Zambia, into Lake Kariba, and from there across northern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique into the Indian Ocean.

Observers said the Commission was expected to be in a position to contribute constructively to the spread of peace, the amelioration and ultimate eradication of poverty, and integration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region through more efficient and environmentally sustainable use of the natural resources at the region's disposal.

The commission came into being after the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems was signed in 1995, to enable sustainable use of the region's water resources.

SADC Executive Secretary Dr Prega Ramsamy said, "In the not so distant past, in 2000 and 2001, there were devastating floods in this river basin, which destroyed lives and properties of the people in the various member states sharing the basin."

He said the Commission was of critical importance "in the context of disaster prevention as a result of natural extreme occurrences, such as droughts and floods."

Botswana's President Festus Mogae commented at the launch, "...there will be a need for a significant shift in mindset on the part of [the Commission's] council members. Obviously they must represent the interests of their countries, but council members must also have the capacity to progress from the role of national representatives to the higher plane of promoters of regional development".

Developing the Zambezi watercourse holds great potential, not only for the estimated 31 million people living within the basin, but also for the total population of the eight member states, currently estimated at around 103 million people.

Mogae noted that the commission could, by "thinking as one, determine the best place to grow food, generate power and create other benefits in the Zambezi watercourse, which can then be distributed throughout the basin and beyond, through negotiated agreements focused on sharing the benefits created from sustainable utilisation of the Zambezi waters".

Signing the agreement is expected to bring benefits across all sectors, including trade, industry, energy production, food security, transport and communication, tourism, regional security and peace.

Source: IRIN

    Support Caprivi Freedom
Fill out the form below to become a member of this site and receive our regular newsletter.

First Name
Last Name