Ministers sanction the implementation of the joint Water Commission Agreement | Infrastructure news

The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu hosted his Mozambican counterpart, Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources, Carlos Alberto Fortes Mesquita, in the country on a two-day meeting on 24 – 25 November 2022.

The meeting was in response to a request by Minister Mesquita to visit the Republic of South Africa to discuss cooperation on matters of mutual interest in the field of water resources and to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The two Ministers emphasised the need to strengthen cooperation and the existing bilateral relations through the Joint Water Commission (JWC) Agreement signed in 1996.

The Commission acts as a technical advisory body to the parties on all matters relating to the development and utilisation of water resources of common interest.

South Africa and Mozambique share the Inkomati River and Maputo River Basin which supply water to citizens who reside along the corridor of the two countries.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards resolving the Maputo/Usuthu breach which provides water security for their respective communities in the common border areas, and to work closely with the relevant stakeholders in this endevour.

The Ministers further noted that the Pongolapoort Dam’s full annual flood releases have not been realised in the past five years because of very low water levels in the dam, which had dropped due to prolonged drought in the region over the years.

The purpose of the flood releases is for replenishing downstream riparian off-channel pans/lakes for social-environmental sustainability of the floodplain that stretches from South Africa into Mozambique.  

However the drought has ended and water levels in the dam have recovered and the flood release has commenced on 14 November 2022 and the peak discharge is expected to enter Mozambique around the 06th of December 2022 at the rate of around 200m3/s. The two countries agreed to continue updating each other with the view of sharing information and data regarding the releases.

The Ministers also emphasised the need for the two countries to collaborate in improving water supply and sanitation in the Ressano Garcia Village in Mozambique. 

The Ministers highlighted the importance of complying with the minimun cross-border flows at the Ressano Garcia gauging station and further encouraged Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA), the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) and ARA-Sul, IP to work together towards ensuring the 2.6 m3/s (cubic metres) is achieved as prescribed in the Incomati-Maputo agreement.

KOBWA is an intenational organisation formed by RSA and eSwatini to manage operations and maintenance of the Driekoppies and Maguga Dams in both countries. The Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) is a local agency reponsible for the water management in the Inkomati and Maputo River basin.

The Ministers also noted the progress on the key projects such as instalation of the six radial gates in the Corumana Dam, rehabilitation of the bottom outlet of the Massingir Dam, mobilisation of funds for the construction of the Moamba Major dam in Mozambique, and Goboshe Dam in South Africa. 

The Ministers further committed their support to the Incomati-Maputo Water Commisison (INMACOM) as the new institution established and the Limpopo Water Commission (LIMCOM) to promote cooperation between the three parties to ensure the development, protection and sustainable utilisation of water resources shared by the Member States, and conclusion of the LIMCOM amendment, which will enable the Council of Ministers as the higest decision body of the LIMCOM.

The meeting affirmed the continued healthy cooperation between both governments especially on transboundary water resources management. A decision was taken that the JWC should continue meeting at least once a year, while the Ministers would meet bi-annually to share updates and discuss progress on the work of the Commission.

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