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Zambezi Strategic Plan Approval on Basin Water Ministers Agenda

The Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM)’s top governing body, the Council of Ministers is scheduled to meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 28 February, 2019 to, among other things, approve the Strategic Plan for the Zambezi Watercourse (ZSP).

The Zambezi water Ministers are also expected to approve another big ZAMCOM project called the Zambezi Water Resources Information System – Decision Support System (ZAMWIS-DSS).

The completion of the two ZAMCOM core projects and the expected approval by Ministers, opens a new era for the development and management of the Zambezi River Basin and takes ZAMCOM, as an organization to another level – that of discharging its functions using the tools and outputs derived from the two support projects and others.

The Strategic Plan is a planning tool that will steer countries that share the Zambezi River Basin in a direction that will help them realise the benefits of cooperation in a shared watercourse.

“It is a framework for facilitating investments in the basin to address Zambezi River Basin development challenges. It is also a step in the right direction in realising benefits of cooperation in the Zambezi River Basin and it will unlock enormous development potential in the Basin,” says Evans Kaseke, ZAMCOM Programme Manager for Strategic Planning.

ZAMWIS-DSS, on the other hand, as Hastings Chibuye, Programme Manager for ZAMWIS says, will improve regional cooperation among the Riparian States of the Zambezi River Basin through data and information sharing. “It will also provide a common data and information reference point for sound decision-making with respect to the development and management of water resources of the shared Zambezi River Basin,” he notes.

The meeting will also take stock of what the river basin organization, shared by eight Southern African countries has achieved, four years after the establishment of its permanent Secretariat in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The Ministers’ meeting will be preceded by that of the ZAMCOM Technical Committee (ZAMTEC) on 26 and 27 February, 2019. The ZAMCOM Council of Ministers meeting is an annual event held mainly around February to, among other things, adopt and provide policy guidance or approve recommendations from ZAMTEC as well as assess progress.

ZAMCOM is a river basin organization set up through the ZAMCOM Agreement by the eight Riparian States that share the Zambezi River Basin.  ZAMCOM promotes and coordinates the cooperative management and development of the Zambezi Watercourse in a sustainable, climate resilient manner. The eight Riparian States are Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The ZAMCOM agreement was signed in 2004 at Kasane in Botswana and came into force in 2011. Its Secretariat is hosted by Zimbabwe.

Other items to be discussed by the two meetings are progress of implementation of the ZAMCOM activities; the ZAMCOM 2019/20 Work Plan and Budget; and review of the implementation of Council decisions of the meeting held in 2018.

The ZAMCOM Council of Ministers is the supreme body of the organization while the ZAMTEC is tasked with implementing policies and decisions of the Council and the ZAMCOM Secretariat (ZAMSEC) provides technical and administrative services to the council under the supervision of ZAMTEC.

Some of ZAMCOM’s achievements to date apart from the two major projects include:

  • development of rules and procedures for sharing of data and information related to the management and development of the Zambezi Watercourse;

  • development of procedures for notification of planned measures;

  • completion of a Legal Equivalence Study;

  • completion of the ZAMCOM Capacity Building Needs Assessment Study and development of Capacity Development and Implementation Plan

  • development of a ZAMCOM Gender Mainstreaming Strategy

ZAMCOM is financially supported by the Riparian States and a number of International Cooperating Partners including the Danish Government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Development Cooperation (DANIDA), GIZ, and the World Bank through Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA).