The Department of Water and Sanitation has echoed its commitment to foster Africa-wide bilateral and trans-boundary relations in the water sector to enhance the provision of water in the country and on the African continent following the annual commemoration of Africa Day on 25 May 2022.The Department stated that the main focus of African bilateral relations within the water sector goes hand in hand with the implementation of existing strategic partnerships, especially with countries where co– operation agreements and tangible bilateral projects exist, particularly with countries within Southern African Development Community (SADC). “South Africa shares major river systems with six immediate neighbouring countries namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe,” said the Department’s spokesperson Sputnik Ratau. Ratau stated that several bilateral commissions and committees have been established between South Africa and its neighbours to regulate the use of water from the river systems in the neighbouring countries. “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,” he said. In addition, 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.
Another trans-boundary agreement is 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, while in the SADC region the overarching SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses. “It is worth noting that South Africa has played a significant role in the successful development and deployment of the first web-based AMCOW reporting tool,” Ratau said. The integrated Pan Africa web-based reporting system was launched during the Africa Day celebration at the Stockholm World Water Week in September 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. 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.