August 28, 2002

MOZAMBIQUE - SOUTH AFRICA - SWAZILAND: Mechanisms for Sharing Water Resources

The governments of Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland have signes an agreement in Johannesburg on August 29, in the context of the ongoing summit on Sustainable Development, on sharing the water resources of the Incomati and Maputo rivers. The terms of the agreement are to ensure a minimum flow of water flow to the downstream countries like Mozambique. It also covers certain hydraulic projects to make sure that water is used rationally.

"This decision was taken to mark a high moment of African cooperation in the area of water resources. For us, this is the first major agreement that we have reached in terms of water sharing. That is particularly important for our country, that shares nine of the 15 southern African river basins. More than half of our country's water comes from countries upstream", Mozambican Public Works and Housing Minister Roberto White told a press conference. He said that particular importance is being given to the rivers south of the Zambezi, since about 80 per cent of this water proceeds from countries up-stream.

White said that the main document in this agreement defines principles and other agreed details, such as the water flows, reference projects in each country in terms of hydraulics, such as dams and drainage systems. Rules are fixed in terms of what each country should do concerning cross-border impacts. He explained that this is an interim agreement, valid for the next 10 years, during which the three countries should perfect the aspects that are yet to be detailed.

A more detailed document should be signed in 2006 about the Incomati river, while a further document on the Maputo river, is expected to be signed in 2010. White said that detailed studies should be conducted on the behaviour and the potential of these two river basins. "What we found was that neither Mozambique nor Swaziland nor even South Africa have yet conducted studies on the soils, water volumes, and the industrial and farming development potential". He said that "this was the reason why we decided that a study is necessary on the possible location of hydraulic undertakings, irrigation potential and other uses of the water, as well as in terms of the environment, so that we know how much water there is and when it is necessary". (AGENCIA DE INFORMACAO DE MOCAMBIQUE)

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