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Home-Shire News-Conjunctive Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Shire River Basin (Shire ConWat) Project Joint Stakeholder Session

Conjunctive Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Shire River Basin (Shire ConWat) Project Joint Stakeholder Session

Participants of the workshop

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, the Department of Water Resources, Malawi, and the National Directorate of Water Resources Management, Mozambique, is implementing the Conjunctive Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Shire River-Aquifer System project on behalf of the SADC-Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) .The project is part of the World Bank funded project entitled “Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States”.

The project seeks to support the mandate of the SADC-GMI by enhancing capacity and fostering partnerships around the sustainable management of groundwater in SADC through development of integrated approaches to water management and by supporting cooperation at local to transboundary and international levels.

To kickstart the project, IWMI organized the joint stakeholder engagement session, 07-08 August 2018, at Baobab Hotel, Tete, Mozambique. The overarching objectives of the stakeholder session were to initiate partnerships among key stakeholders, discuss water management issues in the Shire System, assess data availability and accessibility, and clarify project roles.

Both Malawi and Mozambique depend on the Shire river-aquifer system – The image shows Mozambique nationals traversing the Shire River

In their welcome addresses, representatives from Malawi, Mozambique and the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) highlighted the importance of conjunctive water management and expressed their commitment to advancing cooperation on the Shire river-aquifer system. Both countries depend on it for domestic, livestock, and irrigation water supply and for other uses like navigation, while also suffering the impacts of devastating floods and droughts, which makes the project highly relevant. Karen Villholth, Principal Researcher and Coordinator of the global partnership on groundwater, GRIPP, IWMI, highlighted the increasing rationale for and potential of conjunctive water management, accentuated by climate change and population growth. In particular, Karen highlighted benefits such as water security, flood mitigation and resilience from conjunctive management of water storage, with emphasis on managed aquifer recharge (MAR). She also emphasized the scope for distilling lessons from pilot efforts in the Shire system for other transboundary surface-groundwater systems in the SADC region.

Jonathan Lautze, Senior Researcher and Project Coordinator, IWMI, provided context on transboundary surface and groundwater management in Africa, highlighting extensive surface water cooperation, nascent groundwater cooperation, yet relatively absent conjunctive water cooperation. He outlined the vision, objectives and timeline of the project in order to enable stakeholders to appreciate the project’s approach and identify how to best provide the input and  support to advance conjunctive water cooperation on the Shire. Jonathan also described three of the major project deliverables: the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, the Strategic Action Plan, and the Framework for Conjunctive Transboundary Water Management. Barbara van Koppen, Principal Researcher, IWMI, highlighted the importance of agricultural water management and gender aspects in water and land management in the Shire basin, while Girma Ebrahim, Post-Doctoral Scientist, IWMI, reviewed experiences in MAR on Africa, to inform efforts in the Shire river-aquifer system.

Stakeholders from both countries reviewed surface and groundwater conditions in the Shire as well as data availability on the same. They also identified critical transboundary or joint water management issues as well as opportunities and challenges to scaling up cooperation on the Shire system.

The engagement and information garnered during the workshop will significantly aid the project team during the implementation. The team will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders to get more information as the project progresses. All stakeholders pledged to work with IWMI and SADC-GMI to ensure the success of the project.

Stakeholders during the session

Stakeholders during the session

Community members conducting some activities at the Shire River basin on the Mozambican side- this is an indication that the community is dependent on the Shire River Basin for water supply and other basic water requirements