The governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe have signed an Agreement on Co-operation on the Development, Management and Sustainable Utilization of the Water Resources of the Buzi Watercourse. The Agreement signed on 29th July, in Mutare, Zimbabwe by the ministers responsible for water will enhance cooperation between the two countries and the region as a whole.
Speaking at the signing ceremony Dr Patrice Kabeya, Senior Programme Officer – Water Division, SADC Secretariat reiterated the important role that the signing of the agreement plays in the implementation of transboundary water resources management between the Republic of Mozambique and Republic of Zimbabwe.
“Today marks an important milestone in the implementation of the SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management Phase IV (RSAP IV) Priority Intervention 2.2 on the establishment of Shared Watercourse Commissions/Institutions and Priority Intervention 2.3 on Strengthening Shared Watercourse Institutions to establish Secretariats,” said Dr Kabeya.
SADC Secretariat’s Dr Patrice Kabeya, delivering his speech
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Honourable Air Chief Marshal Perrence Shiri (Retired)concurred on the need for cooperation, adding that the recent Cyclone Idai, that occurred within the Buzi and Pungwe River Basins earlier during the year, was a clear indication that the governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe need to strengthen cooperation particularly on data and information sharing and exchange. He highlighted the on the need to pay more attention on protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development, and taking corrective measures towards the reduction of environmental degradation.
The Buzi Watercourse, together with the Pungwe and Save river basins are shared exclusively by Mozambique and Zimbabwe and drain into the Indian Ocean. The two countries share similar challenges within the 3 basins, among them frequent extreme climatic events such as floods and droughts, water quality degradation due to gold panning and increasing siltation due to unsustainable land management practices.
Honourable João Osvaldo Moisés Machatine, Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources of the Republic of Mozambique cited the signing of the agreement as a commitment of the two nations to regional cooperation, which impacts on the “well-being of our people”.
“The agreement is a testimony of the brotherhood and solidarity between Mozambique and Zimbabwe and our commitment towards regional integration, cooperation, peace promotion and social welfare of the people which is mutually beneficial to the two countries sharing the basin,” he said. He added that the Buzi River is more of a resource than a basin, having the potential of irrigating 45 000 hectares of land and producing 94 megawatts electricity.
Hon. João Machatine, Mozambique’s Minister of Water delivering his remarks
Cooperation in the Pungwe, Save and Buzi river basins is driven by water resources development and management projects which require the two countries to cooperate as stipulated in the SADC Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses, which was signed in 2000. The Protocol, whose objective is fostering closer cooperation for judicious, sustainable and coordinated management, protection and utilization of shared watercourses and advance the SADC agenda of regional integration and poverty alleviation, calls for the need to establish river basin institutions, such as river basin commissions, joint water commissions and water-sharing agreements.
The Buzi Water Sharing Agreement is the second that the governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe signed following the successful negotiation and signing of the Pungwe Basin Bilateral Agreement in 2016 as the two countries work towards institutionalising transboundary water management in the Buzi, Save and Pungwe river basins.
The signing of the Buzi Water Sharing Agreement is one of the key deliverables of the Buzi, Pungwe, Save (BUPUSA) Tri-Basin Project, whose objective is to support a bridging phase, to strengthen cooperation and institution building in the Buzi, Pungwe and Save river basins. The main focus of the project is to facilitate the negotiation of water sharing agreements and support the establishment of the BUPUSA Tri-basin Institution.
Through the subsidiarity principle of SADC, Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA), as SADC Secretariat’s implementing partner, has been mandated to support the implementation of Buzi, Pungwe, Save (BUPUSA) Tri-Basin Project as part of the SADC Transboundary Water Management Programme, which is implemented by GIZ and funded by the German and British governments.