Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe commit to implementation of Limpopo basin project

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau

Technocrats from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa have agreed to align and harmonise their work streams and to fully implement the Integrated Transboundary River Basin Management for the Sustainable Development of the Limpopo River Basin (UNDP-GEF Limpopo project).

The project involves the four nations which all share the Limpopo River and is viewed as an important intervention for strengthening sustainable development along the river.

The Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM) was established through the LIMCOM Agreement signed in November 2003 by the four member states — Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe — in Maputo.

Among other things, the main objective of LIMCOM is to advise and provide recommendations on the uses of the Limpopo, its tributaries and its waters for purposes and measures of protection, preservation and management of the Limpopo.

The Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM) is the lead agent in the project which also seeks to drive agriculture projects that are set to boost economies of the four nations.

The re-affirmation to see through the initiative was made recently by representatives of the member states at an integration workshop in Pretoria and organised by LIMCOM, in partnership with the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA).

In a statement yesterday, LIMCOM said; “Held on February 7-8, 2024, in a hybrid format coordinated from Pretoria, South Africa, the workshop was attended by more than 50 participants representing LIMCOM member states (Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe), the Project Management Unit (LIMCOM and GWPSA), technical leads of the project, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)”.

The organisation said the participants had agreed to effectively contribute to the project’s collective objectives of uplifting the living standards of the basin’s population and conserving the basin’s resources and ecosystem services, through several interventions being executed at the community level.

“The technical partners also identified key touchpoints of information flows, timelines, and data requirements, as well as synergies and integration points,” said LIMCOM in the statement.

“For example, it was agreed that each technical partner mainstreams capacity development in their work plans to ensure that the intervention continues to be relevant well beyond the lifespan of the project.

“Another major area of convergence for the technical partners was the need to involve all stakeholders to promote ownership of the project by the member states and the people living.”

In his address to the Integration Workshop, Mr Manatsa Ruzengwe, representing the Government of Zimbabwe as chair of LIMCOM, said it was critical for all stakeholders and technical partners to pull in one direction and ensure that the people living in the basin fully benefit from the project.

“The Limpopo River Basin belongs to us and none but ourselves should be the champions of development in the basin,” he said.

It is understood that with an estimated population of 18 million people and a catchment area of about 408 000km², the Limpopo Basin supports various socio-economic activities in the four countries that share the basin.

These socio-economic activities include tourism, trade, mining and agriculture.

As such, the successful implementation of the project is paramount to sustainable development in the four Riparian States of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This is also in light of the fact that the population in the basin is expected to reach over 20 million by 2040, putting more pressure on the transboundary water resources in the Limpopo, which are already under severe stress from the impacts of climate change, as well as poor water quality degradation and land degradation.

“We want to share our commitment to building a sustainable and prosperous future for the Limpopo River Basin and its inhabitants,” said Ms Deshni Pillay, the Nature, Climate and Energy Portfolio Manager at UNDP.

Dr Loreen Katiyo, the GWPSA Transboundary Water Governance and Environmental Specialist said they were also committed to working with Member States, the LIMCOM Secretariat and all partners to achieve the goals of the project.

The LIMCOM Executive Secretary, Mr Sergio Sitoe, said it was pleasing to note that all technical partners in the project now fully understand and appreciate how they contribute to the overall programme and the impact that the project is supposed to make in the Limpopo River Basin.

“We must maintain this dialogue and flow of communication to ensure the success of the project,” he said.

Through the Limpopo TDA and SAP, member states have to further agree on a set of transboundary priorities for the basin, which will guide both transboundary and national investments in the future. According to LIMCOM, some community projects and that one initiative have so far been identified in each of the four countries.

These include the Mogobane Dam in the Notwane sub-catchment in Botswana; Massingir Dam in the Lower Elephant’s sub-catchment in Mozambique; Mapochs in the Steelpoort sub-catchment of the Olifants River in South Africa; and the Guyu-Chelesa irrigation scheme in the Shashe sub-catchment in Zimbabwe.

The Limpopo River Basin (LRB) is one of the major river basins in southern Africa, and it is shared by the four countries.

The river flows north from South Africa, where it creates the border between South Africa and Botswana and then the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, before crossing into Mozambique and draining into the Indian Ocean.

The basin supports diverse socio-economic activities in the four Riparian States including agro-industry, large-scale irrigation, rain-fed subsistence agriculture, mining, eco-tourism, and hosts some of the world’s foremost protected areas.

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