Water Ministers review strategic plan
Ministers responsible for the Water Sector from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States met on 3rd July 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe to review progress and provide guidance on the implementation of the third phase of the Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Management and Development (RSAP III) 2011-2015.
The RSAP III is the framework for action to achieve the sustainable development of water resources in the SADC region through the development of water infrastructures on the basis of sound water governance and water management. The SADC Water Minsters meeting was preceded by preparatory meetings of senior officials in the water sector and those from the Okavango River Basin Watercourse Commission (OKACOM), the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM), and the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM). Taking advantage of the presence of Ministers, the Ministers from the OKACOM and the ZAMCOM met on 2nd July ahead of the SADC Water Ministers meetings to clear and approve several strategic documents. The meeting was officially opened by Zimbabwe’s then Minister for Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere.
Speaking on behalf of the SADC Secretariat, the Director of Infrastructure and Services Directorate, Mr Remigious Makumbe paid tribute to the ministers for their continued guidance to the implementation of the water programme. Makumbe also paid tribute to all SADC cooperating partners and Member States, for their support to the regional water programme. Ministers or their representatives from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Also in attendance were representatives from the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW), ZAMCOM, Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASCEOM), OKACOM, Southern African Research and Documentation Centre I Musokotwane Environment Resource Centre for Southern Africa (SARDC IMERCSA), Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA), and WaterNet.
Ministers noted that the implementation of the SADC Water programme continued to register remarkable progress despite human resource capacity challenges at the Secretariat, and urged member states to continue facilitating the implementation of programmes that were lagging.
Ministers noted that three out of the 15 Programmes in the RSAP III did not receive resources to facilitate their implementation. The three programmes are on water quality and environment, economic accounting for water use, and assessment of surface water resources.
The Ministers adopted the report on the Mid-Term Evaluation on the implementation of the RSAP III and the Protocol on shared watercourses which was conducted in 2014 by independent consultants. The report highlights achievements and challenges faced in implementing the RSAP III and describes the SADC Water Programme as a unique regional programme that helped to build and instil a spirit of cooperation in transboundary water resources management and development, and facilitated discussions and engagements between riparian states at the basin level, and across the region through water weeks and Multi-Stakeholder Water Dialogues.
They reviewed and approved the draft structure and content of the fourth Phase of RSAP which is currently being developed, and directed SADC Secretariat to finalize the strategy in collaboration with the Water Resources Technical Committee (WRTC) members. The RSAP IV will run from 2016 to 2020.
The meeting also encouraged Member States to participate in on-going consultations on thematic topics to be included in the RSAP IV. Consultations on issues to include in the RSAP IV have been on-going during the SADC National Water Weeks which have so far been conducted in 11 of the 15 member states. The SADC National Water Weeks are scheduled to take place during the month of July in the outstanding four member states.
It also reviewed and approved the list of priority intervention areas for the water sector programme for the 2016/17 budgeting and planning year.
The Ministers reviewed the status of implementation of projects in the various river Basins in the SADC Region, namely the Okavango, Limpopo, Orange-Senqu, Buzi, Save, Ruvuma, Zambezi, Kunene, Cuvelai, Incomati/Maputo and Pungwe, and commended the state parties of the basins for the progress made in implementing various projects.
On water projects in the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, the meeting noted that the Secretariat continued to promote the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) and its associated Projects through various means including investor conferences. The Secretariat has prepared a list of priority projects from the Master Plan which are ready for investment financing and those that still required development and packaging so that they are easily accessible when promoting them to potential financers.
SADC Member States were urged to continue supporting the process of promoting projects to financers by availing information to facilitate project development, packaging, financing and subsequent implementation.
The Ministers further noted that SADC Secretariat continued to support implementation of the Lomahasha/Namaacha joint cross-border water supply project between Mozambique and Swaziland. The project aims to provide sustainable water supply and sanitation services to the communities living in the border towns of the two countries.
The SADC Secretariat and GIZ are currently exploring different avenues for funding support of the Member States to undertake construction of the water supply schemes once feasibility assessment is completed for the Lomahasha/Namacha project.
On Joint Cross border water initiatives, the Ministers noted that the SADC Secretariat in close collaboration with the Governments of DRC, Zambia and Tanzania, was conducting a study for cross-border water supply and sanitation schemes for the border towns of Kasumbalesa (DRC/Zambia) and Nakonde/Tunduma (Zambia and Tanzania). The study which is supported by the German Government in delegated cooperation with Australian and UK Governments is scheduled to complete by the end of July 2015.
Participating Member States were urged to continue supporting the project, and to consider setting aside some funds as contribution, since some of the funding sources were likely to require a certain proportion of country contribution.
The On Regional Water Supply and Sanitation: Ministers noted that a two-year Regional Water Supply and Sanitation project that was supported by African Water Facility of the African Development Bank (AfDB) was successfully completed in September 2014. The objectives of the project included establishment of a collaborative regional framework for effective planning and management of water supply and sanitation to enable the Member States to improve the provision of water supply and sanitation at country level.
On the Kunene Transboundary Water Supply and Sanitation Project: Ministers noted that implementation on the Kunene Transboundary Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is a SADC pilot involving southern Angola and northern Namibia slowed because of new changes in the project scope and urged the two Member States and SADC Secretariat to fast-tract the project implementation in view of the time already lost and the delayed benefits to the intended communities.
The project entails development and rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation infrastructure for communities and towns in the project area. Another important component of the project is to establish and build the capacity of a water utility entity in the Kunene province in Angola.
On the SADC Hydrological Cycle Observing Systems (HYCOS) Project: Ministers noted the substantial progress in the implementation of the SADC HYCOS Project which was being implemented in collaboration with the SADC Climate Services Centre (SADC CSC), and directed the Secretariat to facilitate the speedy implementation of the Project and secure additional financial resources to support the implementation of the fully fledged next phase of SADC-HYCOS.
On Sustainable Ground Water Management Project in SADC: Ministers commended the Secretariat for securing a total of USD 10.2 million comprising USD8.2 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the World Bank and USD 2.0 million from the Cooperation in International Water in Africa (CIWA) Trust Fund to implement a five-year programme which will be a follow up to the SADC Groundwater and Drought Management Project that was piloted in the Limpopo basin from 2009 to 2011. The implementation of the Groundwater programme which will be hosted at the University of Free State (UFS) is scheduled to start as soon as recruitment of the Director to serve as a Project Manager is completed by the end of July 2015.
On Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Demonstration Projects: Ministers noted that SADC Secretariat continued to facilitate implementation of the IWRM Demonstration Projects in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and that implementation of the infrastructure components was already advanced in Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia.
Ministers urged SADC Secretariat to assist the participating Member States to fast-track the implementation the projects to ensure that all activities were completed by the end of the project in September 2015, so that the communities benefit, and lessons learned be shared with other Member States in the region.
Ministers further noted that the SADC Secretariat was collaborating with the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF) to support the SADC Water Sector in implementing infrastructure-related projects in the RSAP III and as several small-scale water supply projects in member states.
On Capacity Building and Training Programmes: Ministers commended SADC Secretariat for contributing to the development of technical and other skills through post-graduate programmes offered by WaterNet, a subsidiary of SADC, and short courses conducted by the Water Sector.
The Ministers noted that 30 professionals from Member States and River Basin organizations were trained in November 2014 on Negotiation Skills in Transboundary Water Management and International Water Law, in addition to several short courses conducted by WaterNet and SADC Water Sector.
Ministers noted that during the reporting period WaterNet received a total of 339 applications for sponsorship for the 2015/2016 intake to the WaterNet IWRM Masters Programme, and that 28 scholarships with funding from the Dutch Government were awarded to nationals from all SADC Member States except, Angola and islands States as no applications were received. At least two scholarships were granted to each Member State.
The Ministers also noted that most of the WaterNet graduates held hold positions in water departments in the member states and urged member states to make adequate budgetary provisions in their training and capacity building programmes to support at least one candidate from own resources to participate in the WaterNet Masters on IWRM Programme.
They commended SADC Secretariat for developing a comprehensive Strategic Human Capacity Development Plan (SHCDP) which will also be mainstreamed into the RSAP IV. The SHCDP was developed with support from the German Government in delegated cooperation with Australia and UK governments and SADC Secretariat is currently mobilising resources to roll out the plan.
The Ministers reviewed and approved the draft SADC Water Research Agenda, and directed the Secretariat to work in close collaboration with WaterNet and Southern Africa Network of Water Centre of Excellence (SANWATCE) to facilitate its finalization and implementation.
On Gender Mainstreaming in the Water Sector: Ministers noted that in-line with SADC policy instruments which required all SADC water institutions to integrate the principles, goals and objectives of gender mainstreaming in their administration and implementation programmes, a two-year project on Gender Mainstreaming in Transboundary Water Management was being implemented.
The Ministers further noted that during implementation of the project which comes to an end in August 2015, Ministries responsible for Water nominated Gender Focal Persons in their Ministries to facilitate and coordinate gender mainstreaming in the water sector.
They encouraged Member States to provide support to the Gender Focal Persons in order to sustain the gender mainstreaming activities within the water sector.
On Awareness and Communication initiatives: Ministers noted the progress made in enhancing awareness and communication on water issues in SADC which included, among others, Media Awards, Media Training on Water Reporting, and Awareness Videos Productions.
The Ministers commended SADC Secretariat for playing a major role in communicating water issues in the region and encouraged Member States to facilitate the efforts by sharing information on water issues from SADC Water meetings within their departments, ministries and with the media.
On the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM): Ministers noted that the ZAMCOM Council of Ministers meeting on 2nd July 2015, approved to increase each riparian country’s contribution to USD100 000 by 2020. Currently ZAMCOM Member States contribute USD25 000 each year and from 2016 they are expected to start contributing USD60 000 and thereafter increase by USD10 000 each year until they reach USD100 000.
Ministers further noted that the ZAMCOM Council reviewed progress on the implementation of the ZAMCOM programme and approved various institutional and governance guiding instruments including the extension for the ZAMCOM Executive Secretary for three years.
Ministers also noted that Botswana will be the next chair for the ZAMCOM, taking over from Angola.
On Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM): Ministers noted that LIMCOM did not hold any meeting during the year 2013/2014 and that a number of activities stalled due to lack of guidance, a situation that put the funding by International Cooperating Partners (ICP) at risk.
Ministers urged the LIMCOM States to convene and resolve all pending issues including finalising the recruitment of the Executive Secretary for LIMCOM.
On the Orange-Senqu River Basin: Ministers noted that the Orange-Senqu Water Commission (ORASECOM) continued to implement its programme on water in the basin with support from a number of cooperating partners organised directly by the Secretariat and through SADC and commended the ORASECOM riparian Member States and the Secretariat for their success in the implementation of the ORASECOM work programme.
On Kunene and Cuvelai Basins: Ministers noted that Angola and Namibia concluded and signed the process to establish the Cuvelai Commission (CUVECOM) in-line with the provisions of the regional Water Protocol on Shared Watercourses in September 2014 and SADC Secretariat was mobilising resources to support the strengthening of the Commission. Ministers also noted that Angola and Namibia are working out modalities to establish the Kunene Basin Commission.
On OKACOM: Ministers noted that OKACOM was in the process of reviewing its institutional structure to accommodate the Forum of Ministers as a regular structure of the OKACOM as the apex body.
On the Incomati/Maputo basins: Ministers noted that the process of establishing a Secretariat for the joint Incomati/Maputo basin in Swaziland was on going and pending the approval processes by Cabinet for Swaziland as the host.
On Support to mainstreaming youth into the water sector: Ministers noted that youth forums were being organized as part of the SADC Water Weeks to bring together youth groups and raise awareness on water sector activities and advocate for their involvement in water resources management issues.