Durability through Cooperation
Cooperation helps build cohesiveness. And, for the water sector, cooperation can build greater impact and sustainably provide communities with safe and clean water.
As climate change continues to heat up our world, affecting the Southern African Development Community (SADC), there is an important need to holistically consider water resources in the region.
In the few years that SADC Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) has been working to mainstream groundwater in water conversations, the Institute has learnt about the importance of conjunctive use of surface and groundwater management.
The SADC region is home to over 30 transboundary aquifers. However, they have largely been managed in isolation, said SADC-GMI Senior Groundwater Specialist Mr Brighton Munyai.
“This calls for an approach where we do joint planning and move towards building what are called resilient hubs where we get to understand the resource, how much resource is available, and how many resources we can get from surface water. The conjunctive use of water – even in the transboundary context – is also relevant,” Mr Muyai said.
As such, the institute has engaged river basin organisations through the years, advocating for the recognition of groundwater and its integration with surface water management. River basin organisations in the region include the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), The Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM), Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM), the Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) and the Cuvelai Watercourse Commission (CUVECOM).
Mr Munyai said there is a “willingness” to cooperate, including a willingness from national government levels that are sharing transboundary aquifers.
“So that’s one of the issues that we can exploit and move forward the sharing or the joint management of these transboundary aquifers for their sustainable management for food security and for building resilience within our communities in light of climate change,” he said.
While climate change has greatly impacted water availability in the region, it has also greatly impacted the ecosystem as a whole. As a means to save their biodiversity, and better manage their groundwater resources, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) partner states have teamed up.
The KAZA TFCA was formed in 2011 and is made up of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice says: “[The KAZA TFCA has] a mission to sustainably manage the Kavango Zambezi eco-region through best conservation and tourism models, and harmonisation of policies, strategies and practices for the socio-economic well-being of the communities in and around the eco-region.”
OKACOM Executive Secretary Mr Phera Ramoeli highlighted that KAZA TFCA geographically overlaps OKACOM and that the two bodies are working together as a result.
“We have been involved in a KAZA-facilitated process of assessing the groundwater resources in the KAZA area which also overlaps in part of the Zambezi and the Okavango rivers and therefore our work is going to be very critical and important to overlap and collaborate with the KAZA Secretariat,” Mr Ramoeli said.