IWMI, SADC-GMI, and UNESCO-IHP seek to strengthen approaches for transboundary aquifer management

By: Davison Saruchera

Transboundary aquifers in the SADC region, Ramotswa and Stempriet circled in red

The International Water Management Institute in collaboration with the SADC-Groundwater Management Institute  and UNESCO-IHP jointly convened the 3rd Regional Meeting on Tools for the Sustainable Management of Transboundary Aquifers in the SADC region. The meeting was convened from the 6th to the 9th of March 2018 at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone, Botswana, under the frame of three major projects in the SADC region:

  • The Potential of the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer (RAMOTSWA project), funded by the United States Agency for International Development  and executed by the International Water Management Institute for Southern Africa.
  • The Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Multi-Donor Trust Fund Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) through World Bank and executed by the SADC- Groundwater Management Institute.
  • Governance of Groundwater Resources in Transboundary Aquifer (GGRETA Project) – Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System (STAS) project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) , and executed by UNESCO-IHP.

In addition to relevant ministries from the three countries that are involved in the two projects (Department of Water Affairs – Botswana, Ministry of Water, Agriculture and Forestry – Namibia, and Department of Water and Sanitation, South Africa), the following SADC member states participated at the meeting: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, as well as four and River Basin Organizations: Buzi Pungwe Save (BUPUSA), Inkomati, Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS) and the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM).

The meeting aimed at sharing lessons about the governance of transboundary  groundwater resources to enhance the sustainable management, protection and conjunctive use of these resource within the SADC region. The meeting’s broad objectives were to learn from efforts made on the Ramotswa (shared between Botswana and South Africa and the Stampriet (shared among Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) over the last 3+ years, and  to explore options for integrating groundwater management into the region’s River Basin Organizations. The meeting also had parallel sessions focused on the practical side of recent progress and upcoming activities of the two parallel projects. SADC-GMI had the opportunity to pick up the lessons learnt and best practices from these two projects for possible replication in the rest of the transboundary aquifers in the SADC region.

IWMI made significant contributions to the workshop. Karen Villholth discussed findings from a ‘Needs Assessment and Consultation to Support Groundwater Management in African RBOs’, a past assessment that IWMI conducted with six other partners in 2012-2013.  Jonathan Lautze gave a progress update on the RAMOTSWA Project’s various components and outlined plans for the sustainability of the aquifer management beyond the project completion. Girma Ebrahim shared lessons from IWMI’s Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and Hydrogeological Modelling in the RAMOTSWA Project, and Manuel Magombeyi presented  findings from the Agricultural Water Solutions, also a component of the RAMOTSWA Project

Major outcomes from the workshop included: i) the first meeting of the Ramotswa Advisory Committee, a body built to oversee the transition of ownership of the project from IWMI to the member states via engagement with the Botswana-South Africa Joint Permanent Technical Committee, the Limpopo Watercourse Commission and other regional institutions. ii) lesson exchange on options for strengthening transboundary aquifer management, and iii)  expanded understanding on the degree to which  groundwater management is incorporated into existing RBOs.

Some images form the workshop: © Davison Saruchera.

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