Water Sharing Agreement Signed at WaterDome

Aug. 30, 2002
Water history for the African continent was made in Johannesburg at the WaterDome, which is a parallel event of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In an important practical display of regional co-operation, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa signed a water sharing agreement governing the use of two of their shared rivers.

The Interim IncoMaputo Agreement, which involves the Incomati and Maputo Watercourses, immediately unlocked financial support for a major new irrigation development in Swaziland. This includes the development of over 11 000 hectares and the creation of direct employment for 10,000 people. The Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project will provide much needed poverty relief in an area of limited other economic potential.

The Interim IncoMaputo Agreement guarantees the water supply for the Mozambican capital of Maputo for the foreseeable future, enhancing economic and social stability in the sub-region. The Maputo metropolitan area is now home to close on 2 million people and further industrial growth is expected to take place here.

In South Africa there is substantial scope for emerging small farmer development on the impoverished lower end of the Pongola River, which is part of the Maputo Watercourse.

Based on the framework provided by the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses, the Interim IncoMaputo Agreement reflects the Principle of Equitable and Reasonable Utilization of Shared Watercourses for economic and social purposes between the three countries, as well as ensuring protection of the environment. It also reflects the Principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. For the first time, it provides Mozambique, the most downstream country, with protection against over-exploitation of the rivers by upstream neighbors. The Interim IncoMaputo Agreement will ensure that all future infrastructure development is investigated to protect other basin states against significant adverse effect. The agreement spells out the process to be followed by Mozambique in feasibility investigations of further water resources infrastructure development projects like the Corumana Dam rehabilitation and construction of the Moamba Major Dam.

The Incomati River in particular has been identified as one of the most stressed rivers in the region, passing through the rapidly growing Maputo Corridor. Swaziland and South Africa have already co-operated to meet the water need of the region through the building of two new dams on the Komati and Lomati Rivers. These two new dams has already made the development of an additional 7200 ha of mainly small farmer irrigation development possible and the existence of these dams now also allows for the implementation of the IncoMaputo Agreement without detrimental effect to Swaziland and South African water users in this river system.

The agreement provides for co-operation to monitor and control water pollution. It envisages the strengthening of shared institutions to enable implementation of the Agreement and the development of human and technical capacity to manage and protect shared water effectively.

To ensure the success of this co-operative venture the three countries will now proceed with implementation. This will entail the development of operating rules, institutional development, capacity building and the application of these in sustainable management and protection of these watercourses.

Comprehensive water resource development and water use agreements for application in the longer term will be compiled for the two watercourse systems. A number of detailed studies are required for this purpose. It is envisaged that the comprehensive agreement for the Incomati River Watercourse will be completed during 2006 and that for the Maputo River Watercourse during 2010.

Source: WaterDome PR

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