Permanent Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) Secretariat Fully Operational
January 22, 2015
The Permanent Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) Secretariat (ZAMSEC) has been established and is fully operational in Harare, Zimbabwe. This follows the appointment of an Executive Secretary who took office in July 2014, and was joined by competitively recruited professional and support staff in January 2015.
ZAMCOM is a river basin organization set up by the eight countries that share the Zambezi river through an agreement signed in 2004. These are Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nambia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ZAMSEC is one of the three organs of the ZAMCOM as stipulated in the Agreement. The others are the Council of Ministers and the ZAMCOM Technical Committee (ZAMTEC) which were instituted before the Secretariat was established.
The ZAMCOM Secretariat is financially supported by the riparian states and a number of cooperating partners including the Danish Government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Development Cooperation (DANIDA), GIZ and the World Bank.
ZAMCOM’s objective is to “promote the equitable and reasonable utilization of the water resources of the Zambezi watercourse as well as the efficient management and sustainable development thereof”.
The Secretariat, is expected to provide efficient and timely support to cooperation among the riparian states as well as plan and organize basin-wide activities involving stakeholders at all levels.
The Secretariat is led by Professor Zeb Phiri who is a Zambian and a well respected water resources engineer who has spent most of his life working on issues around water resources development and management in his country, the region and beyond.
Professor Phiri comes to the Secretariat with a wealth of experience in the transboundary nature of water resources development and management having been manager for the Zambezi Action Plan Project 6.2 (ZACPRO 6.2), a SADC project that witnessed the birth of the ZAMCOM Agreement. He has also worked at various levels within the Zambezi river basin including being a lecturer and Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Zambia. He has sat on boards of various international organizations including the Global Water Partnership for Southern Africa (GWP SA).
The Secretariat has engaged regional professional staff for its various programmes which include Strategic Planning; Information, Communication and Partnerships; the Zambezi Water Information System (ZAMWIS); and Accounts, Finance and Human resources. It also has support staff in various areas.
As part of its three-year work plan, the Secretariat is expected to develop a Zambezi Basin Strategic Plan (ZSP) that will be used as a reliable and accepted basis for decision making on investments. The Secretariat is also expected to operationalise the key provision of the ZAMCOM Agreement among them, rules of notification and prior consultation on planned measures/projects and the collection and dissemination of information and data in support of improved planning and decision making for the sustainable management and development of the basin.
“Water is a critical resource in the life and development of nations to ensure poverty alleviation. What is encouraging is that the riparian states have realized that there is more to be gained by working together over shared waters and that cooperation is an imperative rather than an option,” said Professor Phiri.
He said the successful transboundary management of the Zambezi river basin, the largest shared watercourse in southern Africa, presents an opportunity for cooperation in managing shared water resources for regional economic development and integration in southern Africa.