SADC MEETING OF MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR WATER
MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE, 9 JULY 2009
For Immediate Release
Ministers responsible for water affairs in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met at Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre in Maputo, Mozambique on 9 July 2009. The Ministers meeting was convened to review progress made on the implementation of the Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), which is SADC’s blue print for the implementation of water related projects in the region.
On 8 July 2009, Ministers responsible for water from the Zambezi riparian states also met to consider pertinent issues relating to the river basin including the ratification of the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) agreement which is designed to help the riparian states unlock the potential of the basin in contributing to the socio-economic development of the participating Member States and the region as a whole.
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Executive Secretary of SADC Eng. Juao Caholo, speaking on behalf of the Executive Secretary Dr Tomas Salamao, pointed out that the meeting took place at a time when water issues are becoming very critical in the development equation in member states, SADC and Africa. He emphasized that for the region, where there is a multiplicity of shared watercourses, cooperation, joint planning and management of the development and utilization of the shared resource is of paramount importance. Eng. Caholo noted with interest that the presidency of the continental body of African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), which is rotational, will in 2009 be coming to the region where it will be assumed by South Africa.
The Rt Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Mozambique, Dr Luisa Diogo who officially opened the meeting, expressed great appreciation to the Ministers responsible for water present for taking time out to come to Maputo for this important dialogue. The Rt Honorable Prime Minister pointed out that it is an honor for Mozambique to host this meeting, which also presents an opportunity for Member States to deepen relations especially in issues relating to water.
The Honorable Prime Minister reminded the Ministers of SADC’s vulnerability to climate change, as this will increase pressure on its water resources. She pointed out that Mozambique has already seen effects of climate change as the country has experienced simultaneous floods and droughts. She informed delegates that the Mozambique government is working on a strategy and policy on water in order to help address these and other Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) issues.
Among other things the Ministers responsible for water noted the progress made on the SADC Hydrological Cycle Observing System (SADC HYCOS) project and approved the project’s phase three working document. The SADC HYCOSS project is aimed at fostering greater regional cooperation in IWRM through hydro- meteorological monitoring by collection, processing and disseminating information including the development and operation of an IWRM resource website and database, as well as the development of hydrological products.
Since approximately 70% of the SADC population relies on groundwater, the Ministers approved the operationalisation of the Groundwater Management Institute of Southern Africa (GMISA) as a subsidiary institution of SADC that will contribute to knowledge and information on groundwater through research. GMISA will be established at the University of Free State in South Africa inline with the SADC Subsidiarity Principle and will further contribute to continental processes through the AMCOW Groundwater Commission.
Following a request from the Ministers on the implementation of the Regional Strategic Water Infrastructure Programme in Mwanza, Tanzania, in November 2008, the ministers endorsed the creation of a fund for small infrastructure projects in Water Supply and Sanitation, designed to assist member states in the development of small scale infrastructure projects.
In order to improve the capacity challenges that the Water Division in the SADC secretariat is facing, the Ministers endorsed the proposed structure of a Programme Management Unit for the sector and directed the SADC secretariat to continue engaging International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) to support the unit while nurturing SADC’s overall capacity building approach through organic growth.
The Ministers considered a report on the assessment of the status of IWRM in the SADC member states conducted by Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) with support from Africa Development Bank. They endorsed the way forward which among others suggests water weeks in all Member States targeted at water using, impacting and impacted sectors especially finance and economic planning. Ministers further endorsed the convening of a joint meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Water and Finance and Economic Planning and other relevant sectors in order to further create a common understanding on the contribution of water to national economies and the socio-economic development of each country.
Regarding the Zambezi River Basin, Ministers noted progress in establishing an Interim Secretariat while awaiting the conclusion of the ZAMCOM agreement and thanked the Republic of Botswana for hosting it. The Ministers urged those countries that have not yet ratified the ZAMCOM agreement to do so as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that the commission is fully established as this will help unlock the opportunities the Zambezi has to offer. Ministers committed themselves to ensuring that this agreement is ratified by December 2009.
Zimbabwe offered to host the next meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for water to be held in 2010. The Honorable Minister responsible for water from the United Republic of Tanzania, Mark Mwandosya gave a vote of thanks on behalf of all ministers for the leadership demonstrated by Mozambique in chairing the meeting as well as the hospitality extended to all participants during their stay in Maputo.
9 July 2009
Joacquim Chissano International Convention Centre
For more information contact: Werani Zabula, Communication Specialist- SADC Water Division, P/Bag 0095, Gaborone Botswana' Mobile: +267 71640247