The Department of Water and Sanitation has reiterated its commitment to foster Africa-wide bilateral and trans-boundary relations in the water sector to enhance the provision of the precious resource in the country and African continent.
The commitment comes as South Africa commemorates Africa Day, along with the rest of the continent.
The annual commemoration of Africa Day on 25 May marks the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
The department said the current focus of African bilateral relations within the water sector is in line with the implementation of existing strategic partnerships, especially with countries where cooperation agreements and tangible bilateral projects exist, particularly with countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“South Africa shares major river systems with six immediate neighbouring countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe,” the department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said.
Ratau said to regulate the use of water from the river systems in the neighbouring countries, several bilateral commissions and committees have been established between South Africa and its neighbours.
“The most eminent bilateral relation is with the Kingdom of Lesotho, through the implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), which is meant to ensure improved water security and economic upliftment through the creation of jobs, income opportunities and security of energy supply for the Mountain Kingdom.
“Adding to this is the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM), which was established in 2000 through an agreement between Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. The ORASECOM Council advises its member countries (Ministers responsible for Water) on matters related to the development, use and conservation of the water resources in the basin,” Ratau said.
Another trans-boundary agreement includes the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM) established in 2003 between Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The purpose of the commission is to advise the four countries on the management of water resources in the Limpopo River Basin.
South Africa also serves on the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) executive committee and on its technical advisory committee. In the SADC region,it serves on the overarching SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses.
Ratau said South Africa has played a significant role in the successful development and deployment of the first web-based AMCOW reporting tool.
The integrated Pan-Africa web-based reporting system was launched during the Africa Day celebration at the Stockholm World Water Week in 2016, which was a first for both Africa and the world.
“As the global community observes Africa Day, South Africa continues to actively promote and contribute to sustainable development through good water governance in the shared basins across the SADC region, and the continent,” Ratau said.
The department has urged members of the public to practice patriotism by preserving water amid water scarcity challenges in the country and on the African continent.