By Thabani Okwenjani
HARARE, 5 June 2012 - The Southern African Development Community's protocol on shared watercourses is recognised as one of the world's best. But sound agreements on the sustainable and equitable management of joint water resources require effective means to implement them.
Water officials from across Southern Africa are meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Jun 5-6 to develop a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the regional agreement.
SADC's 2003 Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses stresses a basin-wide approach to managing transboundary waters, rather than an emphasis on territorial sovereignty. It spells out the objectives of sound management as including coordinated management, sustainable use, and environmental protection.
The river basin organisations that are holding their fifth meeting in Harare are charged with promoting equitable use, setting out strategies for the development of shared rivers and lakes, and developing a policy for monitoring shared watercourses.
Armed conflict over water has long been predicted; most recently the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence said such wars would break out within the next decade. But although many parts of the region are already facing water stress, SADC expects its numerous transboundary watercourses to be the basis of closer cooperation rather than conflict.
"They say the next wars will be fought over water," Dr Kenneth Msibi told IPS in Harare, " but with these agreements, we are making sure that water will instead be an instrument of peace."
For the complete article, please see IPS.