Cooperation and Joint Development
in International Water Resources:

The Case of the Limpopo and Orange River Basins in Southern Africa

Abdullahi Elmi Mohamed

Ph.D. candidate at the Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH),
100 44 Stockholm, SWEDEN. Tel: +46 (0) 70 752 2425, Fax: +46 (0) 8 208 946, E-mail:


Objectives, Scope and Methodology of the Paper

Southern African Development Community (SADC) Water Resources
Introduction to SADC Framework for Cooperation
Climate & Water Availability
Population Development in SADC region
Water Resources Management (WRM)
International River Basins in SADC region
The SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems
Existing Agreements on Shared Watercourses
Inter-Basin Water Transfer Schemes (IBWTS)

The Physical, Hydrological and Economic Aspects of the Basins
The Limpopo River Basin
The Physical and Hydrological Aspects
The Economic and Sectoral Water Use Aspects
The Orange River Basin
The Physical and Hydrological Aspects
The Economic and Sectoral Water Use Aspects

Cooperation between Basins States over the River Basins
The Limpopo River Basin
Multilateral Cooperation (LBPTC)
Bilateral Cooperation between Botswana and South Africa (JPTC)
Bilateral Cooperation between Mozambique and South Africa (JWC)
Establishment of the proposed Limpopo River Commission
The Orange River Basin (ORB)
Bilateral Cooperation between Namibia and South Africa (PWC)
Bilateral Cooperation between Lesotho and South Africa (LHWC)

Comparative Analysis of the two Cases
Differences and Similarities in Physical and Developmental Aspects
Joint Water Cooperation between the Riparian States
Joint Water Resources Development Projects on International Rivers




APPENDIX: Figures and Tables


Water - a basic human necessity, is a critical resource for all aspects of human existence, environmental survival, economic development and good quality of life. The UN (1998) identified lack of freshwater as one of the major problems facing humanity. The whole issue of global food security is closely linked to water availability (Falkenmark, 1997). Moreover, the increasing population puts greater demand on freshwater supplies. As in general terms water resources management becomes increasingly critical and as new local and national sources of water become scarce, limited, expensive and difficult to exploit (Delli Priscoli, 1998) many countries in the arid and semi-arid regions that are facing water crisis (Biswas, 1996) will be increasingly forced to consider the possibilities of utilizing the water that is available in international river basins.

Globally, freshwater constitute only 2.5% of all waters on the Earth and most of easily available freshwater resources exist in rivers and lakes (Shiklomanov, 1997) shared by one or more sovereign states (Biswas, 1981; WB, 1998). The concerns relating to the use of these shared waters are becoming increasingly more important and complex. The number of international river basins in the world were identified to be 261, covering 45.3% of the world land area (Wolf et al., 1999). In terms of land area within international basins, Africa has the greatest percentage of all, 62% and 60 shared watercourse (ibid.). The lack of integrated management on the basis of cooperation for most of the continent's transboundary water bodies could be a potential threat to regional stability. The issue of international shared water resources, which is highly political in its nature (Nakayama, 1997), is currently a subject of considerable debate internationally. Some have stressed the apparent inevitability of serious inter-state conflict over competition for shared water resources while some others believe that it will provide an opportunity and instrument for greater cooperation among countries and reasons to search for common security and peace. No interstate war, however, has ever been fought for access to water that is internationally shared (Wolf, 1997; Delli Priscoli, 1998). Despite of that, it is difficult to make a political predictions just based on historical facts.

The reasons outlined above are certain to affect southern African region because of its water crisis (Palett, 1997). The reasons for water crisis in the region are many. Region's rapidly growing and urbanizing populations lead to increasing water scarcity and water pollution.

Objectives, Scope and Methodology of the Paper

This paper deals with the management of international freshwater resources with special focus on the institutional and legal aspects of two international river basins in southern Africa, the Limpopo and the Orange. The overall purpose is to analyze the cooperation between basin countries. It will present some aspects of interaction between basin countries. The analysis will be based on the interrelated factors shown in Figure 1 (in the Appendix) assumed to have large influence on the joint management and development of shared water resources in international river basins. Issues that will specifically be addressed in the study include (i) difference and similarity between the two river basins from physical and developmental aspects on comparative basis (ii) factors influencing cooperation in shared rivers and the difference between bilateral and multilateral cooperation highlighted through comparing the various joint institutions in the case studies, and (iii) joint water projects on international river and factors that make them implementable.

As a methodology, literature reviews and interviews with relevant organizations and people in the countries of the two basins were carried out with close collaboration with the University of Pretoria, South Africa. In order to comply with the purpose of the study, a special approach was developed as shown in Figure 2. Based on descriptions and presentations, the joint institutions and cooperation established for the two selected shared river basins will be systematically analyzed, using three interrelated parameters as indicated in Figure 2. Different cooperation in the two cases will be compared. Obstacles for the proposed multilateral commissions will also be analyzed.

SADC Water Resources

Introduction to SADC Framework for Cooperation

In 1980, the Southern Africa Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) was established in Lusaka, Zambia as a regional organization for economic cooperation following the adoption of the Lusaka Declaration - Southern Africa: Towards Economic Liberation. The SADCC, established by nine countries, was politically motivated since it was found as a counter-block to South Africa to reduce the economic dependence on South Africa. SADCC was replaced by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which in 1992 ten member States signed the SADC Treaty at the Summit in Windhoek, Namibia. Each member state has the responsibility to coordinate one or more sectors on behalf of SADC. Figure 3 shows map over the SADC region.
South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joined the SADC in 1994 and 1998 respectively (SADC, 2000), after their political change in 1994 and 1997. Mauritius and Seychelles - two island States - also joined the SADC. Having now 14 member states, the SADC as an organization for cooperation regional seems to be strongest in its kind in the entire African continent.

Climate & Water Availability

Southern Africa has great climatological variants. Tropical rainforests are abounding in the northern part of the sub-continent, while desert is the geographical characteristic of the southwestern part. The climate of the region is very much governed by the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which is formed by the confluence of the Southeast trade winds and Northeast monsoons, where warm air rises and produces rain (Pallet, 1997; SARDC, 1996). Arriving roughly through November and April, rainfall in the region comes almost entirely from evaporation from the Indian Ocean (ibid.). Deadly droughts as well as devastating floods are increasing becoming typical features of the Southern African climate, putting pressure on water resources and food security.

Population Development in SADC region

Population growth and distribution is an important factor and driving force in water issues (UN/SEI, 1997). Current size of the region's population is estimated to 208 million, while it may increase to 388 in 2025 (UNFPA, 1992; PAI, 1993; UNPD, 1996). The annual rate of population growth is, on average, over 3%, doubling in just 25 years, while the rate of urbanization is at 6.5%, putting different pressure on social services including water supply and sanitation. The rapid population growth is a threat to sustainable development as it is the first challenge facing humanity and the environment. As the population increase, demand for water in all sectors will have to grow. However, a significant percentage of the population in the region is infected by the HIV/AIDS, which is reducing the population. The mortality is increasing because this of disease (UNAID, 2000).

Water Resources Management (WRM)

Because of its climatic conditions, population growth, among others, most countries are moving from water scarcity to water stress or absolute scarcity condition (Falkenmark, 1989, 1993; Conley, 1996; Pallet, 1997; Gardner-Outlaw and Engelman, 1997). In addition, there is another aspect of water scarcity, technical water scarcity. According to UN/SEI (1997), the region is current having a very low withdrawal-to-availability ratio (referred to mobilization level) indicating a high level of technical water scarcity. As water becomes an increasing scarce resource in the region, competition for shared water resource will intensity (SADC-WSCU, 1999).

Water is a valuable input to production in most, if not all, Southern Africa economies. Based on his concept of 'social resource scarcity', Ohlsson (1999) found all SADC-countries except South Africa as having low adaptive capacity. South Africa, the region's biggest irrigator, uses 60% of the total water use in the region (Heyns, 1993). 60% of region's water demand is used for agricultural purposes (irrigation). In response to urbanization and industrialization, the domestic and industrial water demand is however the fastest growing sector at a rate of 3% per year. Population growth and need for food security in countries are two important factors driving the increasing water demand. Currently, WRM is generally weak across the region due to fragmented and weak institutional and legal framework (Granit, 2000). Demand Management is increasingly becoming essential.

International River Basins in SADC region

In SADC, there are 15 international river basins, occupying 70% of the region's total land area. Largest rivers include the Congo, the Zambezi, the Orange, the Limpopo and the Okavango. Having different profiles, these rivers share important characteristics (Heyns, 2000a), influencing their development potential and impacting on international cooperation. These include (i) runoff generated in other countries; (ii) seasonal and variable runoff; (iii) low flows and large floods; (iv) rivers remotely located from development centers; (v) potential irrigation with less water available. Region's rivers are not fully developed. Large-size water developments in the future require joint institutions with legal backing to be in place.

Namibia and Botswana, with extremely dry climate, share also most large river basins with their neighbors. Mozambique has the most shared rivers, and it is also located at the bottom end of nine rivers. Although water stress and the desire to make water development could cause tensions between basin countries, these shared rivers can motivate basin States to cooperate for common security in the future and to use the shared waters for development and opportunity of mutual benefit.

Asmal and Vale (1999) believe that the shared water resources link the region's community in a way far more forceful than do the political structures. Since it is clear that region's scarce water resources must be shared between different basin States, the only assurance that no harm is done to the interests of any party lies in the process of negotiation and cooperation.

The SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems

In 1995, a Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems was adopted by the SADC at the August SADC Summit in Pretoria. The Protocol, the first protocol to be signed in the SADC Framework (SADC, 2000), has originated from the ZACPLAN , which seems to have been instrumental in letting SADC develop the Protocol (Nakayama, 1999). The Protocol is an outcome of negotiation initiated as a result the debate on the ZACPLAN's second project, which was for development of regional legislation for management of the Zambezi River. However, the effort of UNEP eventually led to a promising regional initiative of the Protocol on Sharing Watercourse Systems in the SADC Region (ibid.). This implies the positive effects of third party involvement in the negotiations of shared freshwater system. The Protocol was later ratified.

The Protocol had gone through an amendment and negotiation process because of several reasons (1) the influence of the UN Convention, which came after the Protocol and encouraged the SADC States to bring the Protocol in line with the UN Convention; (2) to change some of the concept and provisions; and (3) to focus the responsibility of an activity. The reluctance of Angola and Mozambique to accept the Protocol was an important factor for amendment. However, a Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses was signed at the SADC Summit in Windhoek, 2000 (SADC, 2000). Despite of no major changes in the principles, the Revised Protocol is stronger than the original one mainly because of obligations to watercourse States. The SADC Water Sector Coordination Unit (SADC-WSCU), in Maseru, Lesotho, is co-responsible for the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses, and water issues in the region.

Existing Agreements on Shared Watercourses

In SADC there are currently a number of agreements between different basin countries for cooperation in common water systems. All these agreements does not function effectively. Most of the river basins has either bilateral or no joint commission, and most of cooperations are technical based on bilateral agreement, even in the multinational river basins. Number of proposed river commissions are yet to be in place, and does not progress from the level of negotiation and principle to action and solid commitment. Van Wyk (1998) and Turton (1999) argues that the States may feel that their sovereignty is threatened or could be eroded by stronger regional integration in deep cooperation. However, the fundamental issues forcing countries in the region towards cooperation over shared rivers could be the water deficit and the need for development.

Inter-Basin Water Transfer Schemes (IBWTS)

In SADC, there are several existing IBWTS mostly confined in the international river basins where South Africa is a co-basin. Purpose of these IBWTS are for industrial, domestic and irrigation (DWAF, 1997). The reason behind these transfers is the hydrological situation in the region, which creates difficulties in water availability and distribution. There are also some planned IBWTS.

South Africa's economic activity in all nine provinces is already supported to some extent by water imported from other river catchments within or outside the country (Muller, 2000). Transfer schemes are unlikely to be a panacea to water scarcity in Southern Africa, because there is likely to be conflict between donor basins and receiving basins as resource use rises and scarcity threatens supplies in the donor basins. Such threats of conflict and to continued water flow offers a weak basis for sustainable development. To solve such a conflict in future water transfer schemes, South Africa's White Paper on Water Policy in 1997 (DWAF, 1997b) notes inter-basin transfers will have to meet special planning requirements and implementation procedures, such as proper future planning in the donor catchment, and demand management and water conservation in the recipient catchment.

However, as populations grow and demands for water increase the region find itself at an impasse - to move these resources or to move people (Asmal and Vale, 1999). Due to the imbalances in the spatial distribution of demand and supply as already observed, the transfer of water on an even larger scale is likely to be required in future, making rivers more international. Worldwide, water transfers are becoming more common as local sources are used up and people look to more distant sources. IBWTS may become very thoroughly assessed economically and technically, bur poorly assessed in terms of their potential ecological and social impacts.

The Physical, Hydrological and Economic Aspects of the River Basins

The Limpopo River Basin

The Physical and Hydrological Aspects

The Limpopo River Basin (see Figure 3) in south-eastern Africa is running from an altitude of about 2300 m in the vicinity of the mountainous Witwatersrand region of northern South Africa. The main stream of the river is about 1700 km from the source to the mouth. The river flows generally northeast between Botswana and South Africa, forming the border between them, then east between South Africa and Zimbabwe by forming again the entire border between the two, and finally through alluvial plains in southeast Mozambique before entering the Indian Ocean. The Limpopo River Basin covers an area of about 415 500 km2 and is shared by four countries Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe (Wolf et al., 1999). All four basin countries have access to the main river.

The Basin's climate varies from arid to semi-arid with a few sub-humid pockets in the center particularly in South Africa (Boroto and Görgens, 1997; WRC, 1994). The mean annual precipitation of the basin is, however, around 520 mm (Pitman, 1994). Most of the rains (77%) come during the period between November and March, mainly as a result of the summer low pressure (JPTC, 1991a). Mean annual evaporation is generally about 1400 mm at the source, rising to 2000 mm along the main river (ibid.). In the basin, drought and flood are increasing becoming contrasting aspects of the basin's climate. Last but hardest floods in the basin have severely affected Mozambique.

Along the middle reaches of the main stream of the river, significant transmission losses exist (ibid; Boroto and Görgens, 1999). The total mean annual runoff was estimated to 7 330 Mm3 (Conley, 1995). South Africa share is 66% of the total (WRC, 1994). Other basin countries contributes the following runoff: Botswana 6%, Mozambique 12%, and Zimbabwe 16% of the total runoff (Savenji and van der Zaag, 1998). Figure 4 reveals South Africa's dominance in the basin.

The Economic and Sectoral Water Use Aspects

Although characterized by diverse economies, all the Limpopo Basin States have dominantly agriculture as their main sectoral activity for their water use. In the basin, population has been estimated to 14 million (Savenji and van der Zaag, 1998), most of them in South Africa, while Botswana has largest part of its population in this basin.

The main stream of the river have no dams. Many major developments have been implemented on almost all the Limpopo tributaries. In the basin, 44 large dams with storage capacity of more than 12 Mm3/y, 4 in Botswana, 28 in South Africa, 1 in Mozambique and 11 in Zimbabwe were built. The main purpose for these major dams are irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply, as well as for hydropower generation, and they also function as flood mitigation structures.

Being the bulk user of the Limpopo water, South Africa is economically much dependent on the Limpopo tributaries, which serves the industrial heartland of South Africa - the Gauteng Province, which houses currently 42% of country's population and generates over 50% of GNP (LHWP, 1994). The river supplies Eastern Botswana, the most urbanized part of the country. The river support also large irrigation scheme in southern Mozambique. In Zimbabwe, the river has been nearly been developed to its full potential (Heyns, 1995).
Water use in urban related activities is the fastest increasing sector at annual growth rate of 3%. In all basin states, future plans for further development exist. The tendency is that Mozambique will receive less water from the river in the future, probably more polluted, and eventually larger floods during the heavy rains and any future major development will have substantial impacts on the main stream and Mozambique. The basin faces inevitable crisis in the future.

The Orange River Basin (ORB)

The Physical and Hydrological Aspects

The Orange River (see Figure 5) rises in Lesotho Highlands at 3300 m above mean sea level. The river, known in Lesotho as Senqu, forms the border between Namibia and South Africa (450km) before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay. The total length of the Orange River is about 2300 km (WRP, 1999; Heyns, 1995; Pallett, 1997; DWAF, 1999). The Orange is also the largest and longest river in South Africa, covering about one million sq. km (Wolf et al. 1999).

The basin covers portions of four states, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. Lesotho, landlocked and entirely surrounded country by South Africa, lies totally in the basin. Largest tributaries are the Vaal, the Caledon, the Fish and the Molopo, occurring in the Kalahari Desert between Botswana and Namibia. At the mouth, the river has the richest coastal wetland in the region, supporting migratory and resident birds (Hines and Kolberg, 1997).

The basin's climate varies widely. At the source in the mountains of the Lesotho Highlands, the average annual rainfall is about 1800 mm per annum, decreasing westward (DWAF, 1999), reaching in the order of 25 mm (WRP, 1999). The average annual potential evaporation, on the other hand, increases in a westerly direction, rising from 1100 mm in the Lesotho Highlands to over 3000 mm in lower areas of the basin (ibid). However, the overall mean annual precipitation over the entire basin is estimated to 330mm/y (Pitman, 1994; Conley, 1995). The natural mean annual runoff of the Orange River is estimated at 11 200 million m3 (WRP, 1999; DWAF, 1997, 1999).

The water resources of the Orange Basin are unevenly distributed among basin States. Theoretically, Botswana is a part of the drainage basin. But due to its physical characteristics and climatic conditions, the Molopo tributary in Botswana does not contribute any surface runoff to the main river in living memory (van Niekerk, 1999; Stoffberg, 1999). Figure 6 shows that South Africa again dominates the basin in terms of land area, runoff contribution and dam developments.

The Economic and Sectoral Water Use Aspects

In the basin, population has been estimated to 13 million (Savenji and van der Zaag, 1998). South Africa is the country with the largest industrial, agricultural and population base in the basin, and has also the largest urbanized population situated in the basin.

During the late 1950s, the development of the entire river had increasingly become a priority for South Africa. Certainly increasing population growth and improving standard of living must have created demand for rapid development of the water resources. As a result, some of the largest and ambitious water projects to be undertaken in Africa are situated on the Orange River (DWAF, 1999). In South Africa, the development of the river, were implemented under three massive projects:

- The Orange River Project (ORP), launched in 1962 mainly to irrigate thousands of hectares in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Free State. The ORP key structures include the Vanderkloof and Gariep Dams, the largest in South Africa.
- The Vaal River Development, such as Vaal Dam (52m) and others.
- The massive Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) with Lesotho. The Katse dam (185m high) is the most important component of the LHWP. The LHWP were launched in 1980s to transfers water from Lesotho to South Africa. The LHWP is the largest in the entire region.

29 large dams with storage capacity of more than 12 Mm3/y, were built in the basin for domestic, industrial, irrigation and energy production purposes: 2 in Lesotho; 5 in Namibia; and 22 in South Africa (WRC, 1994; Pallet, 1997). In Lesotho, the water demand is relatively low (DWAF, 1999). Since there are both increasing demands for water and potential for further development, future plans were already proposed in South Africa (DWAF, 1999) and Namibia. However, it remains uncertain whether the LHWP will continue along the lines planned in 1986. This is because of South Africa, which is currently in the process of re-thinking if other alternative national sources are available, or the application of demand management to an extent which the demand could be hampered. Being the most developed river of Africa so far, the Orange River is at present nearly fully exploited for variety of purposes, and South Africa is the most dependent country on its water.

Cooperation between Basins States over the Two River Basins

The Limpopo River Basin (LRB)

Multilateral Cooperation (LBPTC)

On 15th June 1986, all Limpopo Basin States signed in Harare, Zimbabwe, an agreement establishing Limpopo Basin Permanent Technical Committee (LBPTC). LBPTC was set up to advise the parties on a number of issues regarding the Limpopo. The LBPTC did not, however, function.

Second meeting of the LBPTC was held in Pretoria, South Africa, in August 1995. At the meeting it was also agreed to activate the LBPTC, which was a dead organization for about 10 years, and discussions concentrated on mutual interest regarding the common river. A joint hydrological study of the main river was agreed on the basis of cost sharing. The aim was that this study to be the first step toward a basin study. In 1999, the study with its crucial recommendations was completed (Boroto and Görgens, 1999). After the second LBPTC-meeting in 1995, a rotating meeting was started, a third and fourth meeting was held in 1998 and 1999 in Gaborone and Maputo respectively. The later concentrated on the legal issue of a proposed Limpopo River Commission at the second meeting in Pretoria. Little progress was made due to disagreement, mainly between Mozambique and other basin States. Zimbabwe was not represented in both meetings (Triebel, 1999. Fifth meeting was planned in Harare but re-scheduled twice due to the domestic crisis in Zimbabwe (Tombale, 2000; Havenga, 2000). It was however held in September 2000 and little progress was again made, as Mozambique brought new proposals that raised a number of legal issue (ibid.), which needed to be resolved (Sobekwa, 2000).

Bilateral Cooperation between Botswana and South Africa (JPTC)

Long before the LBPTC, Botswana and South Africa singed a number of bilateral agreements concerning sharing of the Limpopo waters. Cooperation on that part of the Upper Limpopo Basin, which is shared by Botswana and South Africa, started in 1967 (JPTC, 1991b). A Joint Permanent Technical Committee (JPTC) between the two countries was established in 1983 to make recommendation on matters concerning rivers of common interest, i.e. the upper Limpopo. In 1988, an agreement was reached on the apportioning of water from the Marico River particularly the Molatedi Dam on the Marico, in South Africa. In the agreement, 7.5 Mm3/y of water of the Molatedi Dam was allocated for Botswana via pipeline transfer from the dam to the Gaborone City for domestic needs. In 1989, a memorandum of understanding on the utilization on water from the river was also signed. Delegates in the JPTC meet regularly on yearly basis discussing technical issues.

The most notable outcome of the JPTC framework for cooperation is the joint study in1991 - the Joint Upper Limpopo Basin Study (JULBS), which the two countries agreed to undertake in 1989. The JULBS was a pre-feasibility study (i) evaluating the water availability and its present utilization (ii) determining the potential and demand for water development and (iii) determining and evaluating the most successful and cost effective method of regulating the main stream in order to stabilize existing water use and promote further development (JPTC, 1991b). The study concluded however that development of dam projects on the main river was not viable for both technical and economic reasons (JPTC, 1991a).

Bilateral Cooperation between Mozambique and South Africa (JWC)

Before Mozambique became independent in 1975, there was an agreement between Portugal, former Mozambique colony, and South Africa on common rivers in October 1964. In February 1983, agreement between Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland led to the establishment of Tripartite Permanent Technical Committee (TPTC). This has not been functioning mainly for political reasons. The TPTC cover however only river basins that are jointly shared by the three countries i.e. Incomati, Maputo and Umbeluzi. During 1980s and 1990s, political situation was not favorable for real cooperation between the two countries on shared water resources. In 1996, after the political change in South Africa, the two countries signed an agreement establishing a Joint Water Commission (JWC) in Maputo, Mozambique. The JWC has advisory functions on technical matters relating their common waters, including Limpopo.

Establishment of the proposed Limpopo River Commission

At the second LBPTC-meeting in Pretoria in 1995, an idea to elevate the LBPTC to a multilateral river commission was initiated. Mozambique, which already demanded the revival of the LBPTC because of their concern (Carmo Vaz and Lopes Pereira, 1997), welcomed the idea. A draft agreement [The Limpopo River Commission] was prepared. The main objectives were to (i) develop a monitoring policy for the river; (ii) promote the equitable utilization of the river; (iii) formulate strategies for the development of the river and (iv) monitor the execution of the IWRM in the river.

Table 1 shows a brief summary of the findings in the Limpopo River Basin cooperation.

The Orange River Basin (ORB)

Bilateral Cooperation between Namibia and South Africa (PWC)

In 1992, Namibian and South African governments signed an agreement to establish a Permanent Water Commission (PWC) at Noordoewer. In the agreement, the main objective of the PWC is to act as a technical adviser to the Parties on matters relating to the development and utilization of water resources of common interest to the Parties. The PWC take all decisions on consensus basis and meet twice a year. Countries signed in 1992 another agreement establishing a Joint Irrigation Authority. The Joint Irrigation scheme, known as Vioolsdrift and Noordoewer Joint Irrigation Scheme, along the river banks irrigating 800-1000 ha, was in operation even before the Namibian independence as a South African scheme, but after Namibia became independent it turned to be international. The PWC is having sub-committee dealing with and managing joint irrigation and planning tasks. An interim Government instituted in 1980 in Namibia agreed with South African government in 1987 to cooperate on the utilization of the Orange River (Heyns, 1995a).

The PWC has positive achievements. The achievements include the joint irrigation scheme. In addition to that, the PWC has also made recommendation on the issue of border between the two countries. During the period (1919-1990) when South Africa was in charge of Namibia, the border between the two was somewhere in the northern bank of the Lower Orange River, but despite of that the precise location of the borderline was uncertain. After the independence in 1990, Namibia became concerned about this issue of setting the position of its border along the river (Conley and Van Nierkerk, 1998). Its 1990 Constitution provides inter alia that "its southern boundary shall extend to the middle of the Orange River". Negotiations between Namibia and South Africa to confirm the exact position of their common border along the river have progressed satisfactorily, although the details have not yet been formalized in a treaty document. By bringing the border between Namibia and South Africa back to the middle of the main stream of the Orange River, Namibia got the right to access the main stream of the Orange.

The possibility of a major dam at Vioolsdrift has been suggested and is currently being investigated by Namibia and South Africa (WRP, 1999). Decision on a joint study of the lower Orange River was reached in 2000. The objective of the study is to investigate measures to improve the management of the lower Orange River. The study will, in particular, investigate the potential of water demand management (WDM) along the lower Orange River and the need for and feasibility of new storage reservoirs as identified during the Orange River Re-planning Study - ORRS - (DWAF, 1999). The Study will fall under the control of the PWC, which nominate a Study Management Committee (SMC) to perform the detailed management of the study on behalf of the PWC.

Bilateral Cooperation between Lesotho and South Africa (LHWC)

The development and utilization of Lesotho's water resources for transfer to South Africa has been a subject of intensive debate and negotiations since the 1950s (LHDA, 1989). The drought in 1965 renewed interest in a Lesotho-based scheme to divert water into the Vaal sub-basin. A report of preliminary study entitled "The Oxbow Scheme Consolidated Proposal" was presented to Lesotho in 1967, a year after Lesotho independence. A further report in which a hydropower component was found not to be economically viable was published,
However, the Lesotho and South Africa failed to reach agreement in 1972 on the Royalty and negotiations were terminated (Roux, 1989). This led South Africa to embark upon national transfer scheme, through which it was possible to satisfy demand in the Vaal River supply area until 1992, but if no further development takes place in this region there will be a shortage of water the year 2010. It was this background that negotiations with Lesotho to transfer from the upper Orange to the Vaal River system, were re-initiated in 1975 (ibid.). Table 2 summarizes the chronological events to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

Through the negotiations, Lesotho insisted on two conditions (1) all projects to be considered should include a hydroelectric power development for Lesotho itself, and (2) no layouts involving the Caledon River, because it was a conquered territory. The feasibility study was conducted in the light of these provisions. In April 1986, final feasibility study was completed and it was identified as a multi-purpose project, the LHWP, which found the lowest layout for ultimate 70 m3/s transference from Lesotho in five phases to South Africa for domestic and industrial uses.

In parallel to the study of the Lesotho water transfer scheme, there was another alternative national scheme considered, known as the Orange-Vaal Transfer Scheme (OVTS), see the Figure 7. The OVTS involved transferring of water from a dam on the Orange River outside the border between South Africa and Lesotho to the Vaal River through a pump station, canal and pipeline network along the Lesotho border, without involving Lesotho. In comparison with the LHWP, the OVTS had several disadvantages, as shown in Table 3. In addition, the OVTS causes air pollution from coal burnt to power pumps (Conley and Van Nierkerk, 1998). However, in the negotiating process with Lesotho, the OVTS had an important role to play for South Africa.

Immediate after the political change in Lesotho in 1986, the LHWP Treaty was signed by the two Governments in Maseru in 24 October 1986. According to the Treaty, the purpose was to provide for the establishment, operation and maintenance of the LHWP. The overall purpose of the LHWP was to transfer the specified quantities of water from the Senqu/Orange inside Lesotho by using delivery structures to the designated outlet point in South Africa for use in Gauteng Province, and to generate hydroelectric power in Lesotho.
In terms of the Treaty, South Africa is responsible to pay full cost of the LHWP, while Lesotho pays for the cost of hydropower component in their territories, which is about 5% of total cost of the LHWP. In the Treaty, countries agreed on to share the different in cost, called the net benefit, of the LHWP over its alternative scheme, the OVTS on a ratio of 56% to Lesotho and 44% to South Africa. Lesotho's share of net benefits to be obtained by using the LHWP is called the "royalties" while South Africa's share is referred as "cost savings" (DWAF, 1999).

Based upon the Treaty, three institutions were set up simultaneously - one bilateral and two implementing agencies. A Joint Permanent Technical Commission (JPTC) was established to monitor and oversee the Treaty. In addition, two implementing agencies with autonomous statutory, the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) were established and entrusted to take the responsibilities to implement the project in Lesotho and South Africa respectively (see the figure below). The LHWC is responsible and accountable for water transfer and hydropower. The LHWC shall have monitoring and advisory powers relating to the activities of the LHDA and TCTA. The LHWC is composed of two delegations, one from each Party. The two governments appoint their LHWC delegates. The LHWC is functional and productive in terms of its objectives.

There are already four Protocols attached, which deal with issues in more detail than considered under the original negotiations of the Treaty. Of these, two (Protocol V and VI) that were signed in 1999 in Pretoria by water ministers, are resolving disputes in the project. Protocol V ends a lengthy dispute on the taxation of LHWP activities in Lesotho. While Protocol VI was meant to address governance of the LHWP in its tripartite organizational structure. At the end of Phase 1A, there were substantial differences between the LHWC and LHDA, particularly in the reporting relations and authority lines. Figure 8 shows the current structure of the overall governance of the LHWP and the relations between the three institutions with their two governments.
There are currently two outstanding unresolved disputes between the parties in the LHWP. The first one has to do with the employment policy in the LHDA, which does not employ South Africans. The second outstanding dispute is the interpretations of the Senqu river hydrology, as Royalties paid by South Africa to Lesotho is based upon certain hydrology of the Senqu River. However, the two countries appointed now a neutral body to arbitrate and solve the later dispute. In terms of the LHWP Treaty, the decisions of the arbitrator will be final and binding.

Table 4 summarizes findings of the cooperation in the Orange River Basin.

Comparative Analysis of the two Cases

Differences and Similarities in Geopolitical, Physical and Developmental Aspects

In geopolitical terms, The Limpopo and Orange are two international river basins, which have the same number of basin States. Each river forms parts of or entire geopolitical boundaries between the States sharing it. The Limpopo forms mutual border between three of the four riparian States. The river basins have, however, different geopolitical setting. In both cases, South Africa is the only co-basin State bordering with the other three States in both basins. This makes the two river basins important in South Africa, as they are the most important water systems in the country. South Africa could be regarded as being downstream as well as upstream riparian in both basins. In their respective basins, Mozambique and Namibia are located the furthest downstream, which is the least favorable position to be in hydropolitical terms, as an upstream State can theoretically divert and pollute the water in the river. All except Botswana have access to the main stream of the Orange River. In the case of the Limpopo, all have access to the main stream. Botswana and South Africa are riparian in both river basins.

Located in the same geographical region of Southern Africa, the two river basins have almost similar climatic conditions, where the river hydrology is subjected to great variations during the year. The Orange River originates in the Lesotho Highlands, with the highest altitude and rainfall in the region. On annual basis, both river basins are having much higher evaporation than rainfall, which make them water-deficit. In terms of long-term average annual runoff, the Orange generates comparatively more runoff (11 200 Mm3) than the Limpopo (7 300 M m3). In both river basins, South Africa contributes the largest runoff and occupies the largest drainage area, as the two river basins cover in total 65% of the country's land area. The two river basins are in the same order in terms of population size, and largest portion of it live in the upstream areas around the water divider. This is partly because of the mining areas in the Guateng Province in South Africa, which historically attracted most of population to reside near these areas of economic activity for job opportunity. This is why the sources for water i.e. main stream of rivers are remotely located from major human settlements and areas of development. Historically, this is not the case, because people reside normally along the rivers for cultivation. Largest portion of Botswana population lives in the Limpopo basin, this makes Botswana much dependent on the water resources of the Limpopo.

Having almost the same order of annual runoff, the two rivers have almost similar level of infrastructure development. Both rivers have extensively been exploited to a large extent. The Limpopo have more large dams (43) than the Orange (29), but the storage capacity of those dams on the Orange amounts more due to their size. Being the most important water systems in South Africa, most dam developments in the Limpopo and Orange Rivers are to be found in South Africa. This indicates the economic capacity of South Africa. The Orange and the Limpopo Rivers are among most developed rivers of Africa. Water Resources of both river basins are mainly developed for irrigation and water supply for urban use, which is rapidly growing. The level of infrastructure development and economic capacity between the countries sharing the two river basins are significantly different. South Africa has the far-reaching level. The high level of water transfer schemes, either importing or export water, in the two river basins may complicate the principle of equitable and beneficial utilization of these shared watercourse systems.

Since the main stream of the Limpopo River, unlike the Orange, forms the political borders between three riparian States, its development requires special agreement between the States, and this makes internationalization of the basin significant. No country has therefore got the right to develop the main river unilaterally. The basic concept here is that no development of a river, which acts as a common political border, could take place without agreement and cooperation, and this is why there is no large development on the Limpopo main stream. The Limpopo has more tributaries than the Orange, and as a result of this, among others, developments on the Limpopo Basin concentrate on the tributaries in the upstream areas. The reason why the Orange has several major dams and inter-basin transfer schemes has to do with its geopolitical setting. It mainly run in the interior territories of South Africa. The high level of developments on the Limpopo tributaries, unlike the Orange, has significant impacts on the hydrology of the main stream. This diminished flow of the main river caused saltwater intrusion resulting ecological problems for Mozambique.

There are few developments in the downstream riparian particularly Mozambique and Namibia. This is not the case of many rivers in the world, where the downstream users depend historically on river water and therefore develop much earlier. Mozambique has been lacking both economic capacity and political stability to make use much of the Limpopo water, while Namibia did not have access to the main Orange River until recently and did not exist as a State earlier. Given the existing level of water development and use in upstream areas of the Limpopo basin, it is certain that Mozambique is suffering through this process.

Joint Water Cooperation between the Riparian States

Comparison between Different Cooperation over the Limpopo and Orange River Basins

Both for the Limpopo and the Orange River Basins, efforts have been made to reach a cooperative arrangement for the utilization of the water in the basins. Two bilateral and one multilateral cooperation in the Limpopo Basin and two bilateral cooperation in the Orange Basin were established. The multilateral framework of LBPTC, which Botswana took its initiative (Triebel, 1999), did not functioned during its first ten years (1986-1995) mainly for political reasons. The reason behind the inactivity of the LBPTC has mainly been political rather than technical (Tombale, 1999). This was mainly due to the problems regarding the tense relations and political upheaval between South Africa and Zimbabwe during the apartheid period. Moreover, it could also be attributed to that Mozambique was either in the middle of or on the recovery from their long civil war (Triebel, 1999; Paolo, 2000), which strongly devastated the country. Lack of financial resources, common vision, identified issues and framework are also part of the main reasons why the LBPTC could not function. Since the initiative to establish the LBPTC did not define specific issues to address, there have been no mutual interests identified that could link and trap all basin States. No progress on any aspect of the cooperation was therefore made, and the objectives of the cooperation have not been achieved.

The LBPTC was, however, reactivated after the second meeting in 1995 as an immediate result of political change in South Africa in 1994. This implies the impact that the political factor has on the functionality of an existing cooperation. The Joint Limpopo hydrological study is the only and the first achievement of the LBPTC for about 13 years.

Botswana and South Africa, on the other hand, have a good relationship with each other on data exchange and water sharing, and both States have been enjoying a long history of cooperation and understanding on the matters relating to the waters that are common to them - the upper Limpopo. This cooperation started before Botswana became independent in 1966 and became easy to operate. Botswana has been the only Limpopo riparian cooperating with South Africa even during the apartheid era. Over the years, Botswana and South Africa have reached a series of understandings about the way in which waters of the Upper Limpopo are to be shared and administered. Due to its longer history and more favorable political environment, the JPTC has been more functional and effective than the LBPTC. The JPTC has several successful achievements during its existence. Botswana's capital Gaborone receives transferred water from a dam - the Molatedi Dam on the Marico River - located in a very dry area in South Africa, without compensation. In return, Botswana contributes the operation and maintenance of the dam (Tombale, 1999). The Joint basin study (JULBS) increased the confidence between Botswana and South Africa in data sharing and information exchange, though it did not materialize the anticipated joint development project on the upper Limpopo.

In contrary to the LBPTC, the bilateral cooperation of between Lesotho and South Africa, LHWC has very specific issues i.e. water transfer and hydropower generation. The LHWC is a bilateral institution having a development-oriented and project-specific scope rather than basin-wide cooperation with overall management of the shared water resources. The LHWC with its LHWP Treaty became possible after the changeover of the political regime in Lesotho, again this indicates the impact that the political factor has on the establishment of a cooperation over international freshwater resources. The LHWP Treaty with its bilateral commission of LHWC served the two countries well resulting in no major disagreement. With its limited scope, the LHWC has therefore proved to be effective and functional forum for inter-governmental cooperation and coordination.
Both countries, Lesotho and South Africa, benefited the LHWP (see Table 5). The overall benefit to the economic base of Lesotho is significant as the country could otherwise be in recession (LHDA, 1996). It became possible for Lesotho to develop its self-sufficient hydroelectric power to eliminate its dependence on imported power supplies from South Africa. South Africa receives water at low cost for its growing demands and made significant savings.

The bilateral cooperation of PWC between Namibia and South Africa has been satisfactorily operational since its establishment in 1992. The PWC is functional in the sense that it delivers its objective and no major and serious dispute is found in the cooperation. The achievements include the joint irrigation scheme. The PWC made a recommendation to investigate the availability and use of water. The well functionality of the PWC could be attributed to the good relations between the countries as well as the mutual interest in their joint undertakings in lower Orange. The cooperation has been successful in information exchange and data sharing as well as waters allocation. The PWC is therefore classified as functioning satisfactorily in the eyes of the parties. Countries are currently in the process of carrying out a jointly study in the lower Orange River to investigate measures to improve the management of the lower Orange River. The result may lead to a joint water development.

In comparison with the multilateral cooperation of LBPTC, the other three bilateral cooperations are effectively functional with different levels of achievements. The first difference that an observer could identify is type of cooperation arrangement i.e. multilateral or bilateral. Table 6 shows a comparison between two joint institutions one from each river basin. The LBPTC and LHWC, established in the same year (1986), show different achievements depending on their different structure, objectives and functionality.

The JWC between Mozambique and South Africa is the first bilateral cooperation and joint institution established after the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the political environment between the two States was not inductive or favorable to cooperation over shared water resources. The JWC is nevertheless unlikely to bring any dramatic gains to the parties, before addressing the mistrust between the two countries in shared water issues. The relations between Mozambique and South Africa were complicated particularly in view of the long history of mistrust. However, concerning their shared water resources, Mozambique and South Africa are having three overlapping institutional arrangements i.e. the LBPTC, TPTC and JWC, multilateral, tri-lateral and bilateral respectively. Two of them (the LBPTC and the JWC) deal with the Limpopo River. This clearly shows fragmentation in the cooperation system. Water is significant issue determining the overall relations between Mozambique and South Africa.

Bilateral and Multilateral Frameworks for Cooperation

In the two cases, four bilateral frameworks for cooperation and only one multilateral were identified for the two multinational river basins. In the last section it was concluded that the bilateral cooperation in the two case studies are more practical and functional than the multilateral.

In the negotiation process of establishing a joint institution for a river shared by several countries, difficulty increases and process becomes longer as the number of riparian increases. In order to avoid this difficulty and longer processes, riparian that is ready to make water development and have difficulties to wait for an overall agreement covering the entire basin prefer to cooperate on bilateral basis. This is the case for South Africa for their approach to develop water resources that are shared during the apartheid era. This approach of bilateralism in multilateral basins indicates that the river is not treated as single unit. The river basin approach is a relevant, fundamental, natural, economic and planning unit of management in water sharing in order to maximize the utilization of the resource. Although bilateralism in multilateral basin ignores the river basin concept, it operates more practically. This should not be understood to suggest that the States sharing multinational basins must cooperate on the basis of bilateral agreement rather than multilateral framework. But it indicates that in the bilateral framework, there are only two interests to satisfy, while in the multilateral one there are too many and different interests, which complicate the process and the framework. Another obstacle in the establishment and functionality of multilateral framework for cooperation over shared river is that one or several of the parties concerned do not attend meetings, and this makes the performance inadequate, disappointing other parties that may have interest in the cooperation. This is exactly what is happening in the current process of establishing River Commissions for the two river basins.

Using three parameters, Table 7 shows advantages and disadvantages of the bilateral and multilateral frameworks for cooperation over multinational river basins. Table 7 suggests that it is easier for the co-basin countries to operate cooperation based on bilateral framework while functionality of multilateral cooperation is problematic but advantageous if possible. With free flow of information between the parties in multilateral framework, it could be possible to make long-term planning and prediction of possible effects. It can also be prepared within the economy of the parties due to its long-term perspectives. If, on the other hand, one or two of the co-basin countries are ready to make use of the available water, this could be easier on bilateral basis, but does not give long-term benefits based on sustainability.

The three main factors that, therefore, differ the two forms of cooperation - bilateral and multilateral - are (i) establishment process; (ii) satisfaction of individual interest and (iii) performance of meetings. In order to manage the dilemma and give the river basin concept a better consideration, the framework could be structured as shown in Figure 9. A bilateral cooperation as part of multilateral framework could be approached to cooperate at basin level. Issues concerning two of the basin States could be solved on bilateral basis with information to the multilateral forum.

Obstacles to and Disagreements on the two Proposed Multilateral River Commissions

As sustainable development for the entire river basins needs to be approached from a comprehensive basin overview rather than from individual national viewpoints or bilateral basis, a process to establish a multilateral river commissions has been started in the two basins after the political change in South Africa in 1994. The two cases are somewhat identical as far as the newly proposed multilateral river commissions are concerned. The two river basins are now undergoing a process to create a multilateral river commission, and problems delaying the establishment of the commissions are more or less the same, as the basin States are having difficulties with the establishment of the river commissions.

In the case of Limpopo Basin, several LBPTC-meetings were held to discuss establishment of basin-wide commission, but fruitful results are yet to experience and co-basin countries are having difficulties to agree upon. The process is delayed by what status the commission will have. Particularly, if the level of integration were to be so high that riparian States would have to transfer power to make decisions from government departments to such a commission, which most States in the world are reluctant to do. This means, among other things, that the commission should have what is termed as international legal personality (ILP) in both cases. The aim of the ILP is to ensure that the proposed Limpopo River Commission (LRC) gets a mandate from the co-basin States. The current constraint on establishing the LRC has mainly to do with hesitations of the downstream riparian, Mozambique. Mozambique is concerned about its riparian position and economic capacity and may want to see a clear-cut allocation within the basin. Mozambique also requires that the LRC to supersede all existing bilateral agreements and this was illegal and impractical for Botswana and South Africa. Countries clash also over the concept and terminology such as river basin against watercourse. Zimbabwe with its domestic crisis has not been engaged in the meetings convened on the establishment of the LRC except the last one.

In the case of the Orange Basin, the proposal to create a multilateral river commission was delayed mainly by two issues: dispute over the name of the commission and the status of the proposed commission. South Africa and Lesotho have different conflicting arguments on the name of the commission, whether Orange or Senqu. These arguments have strong relation with sovereignty of the States. Like the LRC, the States could not agree on some of the provisions in the draft agreement such as the future status of the commission. Despite having no recorded runoff contribution to the main Orange River, Botswana has the legal right to be party in the negotiation process. In rational thinking as well as international water law, runoff contribution is not a condition to participate in such a process. The most important factor is to be geographically part of the drainage basin irrespective of having runoff contribution, human settlement, economic activities etc.

States are, therefore, lacking an adequate terms of reference to create the commissions. Nevertheless, the cooperation on this aspect to create a multilateral river commissions for the river basins in the study does not seem to progress from the level of meeting, discussion, negotiations and principle to action and commitment. In order to facilitate and promote the establishment process of the multilateral river commissions third party involvement might be useful. In this case, the SADC could be one. Since one identifiable feature in these processes of commission establishment is lack of understanding of negotiation skills and the whole nature of diplomacy, the role of third party could be to promote these issues.

Main Factors Affecting Establishment and Functionality of Cooperation

Based on the two case studies, factors that influence functionality include (i) type and structure of the cooperation - bilateral or multilateral; (ii) the objectives and scope of the cooperation; (iii) interest(s) of individual co-basin countries in the cooperation; and (iv) trust between the cooperating parties. It is essential that functions and objectives of cooperations to be clear and specific, if more concrete results should be achieved. In the case of the LHWP, the aim was to transfer certain amount of water from Lesotho to South Africa, in return for royalty and hydropower to Lesotho. In many river basins, integrated management are discussed with less tangible results. Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is necessary but unfeasible because it may mean that every issue should be discussed. This requires that the cooperation to be broader than water. Interest in terms of mutual benefit is another major factor and key issue influencing the functionality of the entire cooperation. This is where economic benefit comes into the picture. Lesotho and South Africa have been engaged in their LHWP-cooperation to share the benefit from their undertakings. So, the countries have been talking about joint benefits and mutual interest. Trust is another important factor and fundamental issue in the functionality of cooperation over shared water resources. Trust has mainly to do with the norms and value systems of individual States. Above all, a political will and commitment is a decisive factor in the whole question of cooperation over international rivers, because if there is a will there will always be a way for a crisis on any subject. In any negotiation, establishment or functionality of a cooperation, two issues are influential: who will pay the cost or receive the benefit and when? In the case of the LHWP, this happened simultaneous and mutual.

Moreover, droughts, floods and water pollution also motivate riparian States to cooperation.

Joint Water Development Projects on International Rivers

Factors that Make Joint Water Projects on International Rivers Implementable

In the Limpopo and Orange Rivers, there have been two international water projects i.e. the LHWP and the project that the JULBS investigated. The former has materialized while the later did not produce the anticipated project that was suppose to be undertaken jointly by Botswana and South Africa. Pre-feasibility studies of the two projects were undertaken by bilateral institutions i.e. the JTC and the JPTC. Implementation of these joint projects was mainly influenced by three factors:

o Physical aspects of the river (topography and hydrology)
o Economic interests of States in terms of benefits, and
o Political relationships between basin States.

The LHWP became viable to implement because of these factors. In comparison with South Africa's national project of OVTS, the LHWP gained advantages due to its physical aspects mainly the topography and hydrology of the Senqu River. In view of the LHWP's physical advantages, which saves significant costs to South Africa by employing gravity, the two countries discussed how they could economically benefit from a joint undertaking. In addition to their cost savings, South Africa local economy with its increasing demand for water needed a reliable long-term source of water. Lesotho was also able through the LHWP to prevent the loss of and exchange its natural resource - water, the White Gold of Lesotho - into a long-term income stream for the nation and cheap renewable source of energy, hydropower. Thus, the interest of the two was mutually satisfied. But the joint project became possible to implement when it politically became viable in 1986 after a changeover of political regime in Lesotho. In the event of negotiations failing with Lesotho, South Africa would implement the OVTS as a national scheme, despite the physical and economical disadvantages compared to the LHWP.
This is exactly what Botswana did when the JULBS concluded that development of joint dam projects with South Africa on the upper Limpopo River were not viable for both technical (physical) and economic reasons. Technical reasons include that the dam sites were very flat requiring wide dams and a large capital investment; the yield would have been relatively low as the area is very hot so the evaporation losses would have been very high; the sediment load of the river is very high and the storage capacity would have required to be increased in order to maintain a specific yield. The economic analysis showed that a scheme purely based on irrigation is unlikely to be justifiable in economic terms. The result of the study fitted, however, into Botswana's interests in both urban and irrigation supply, but not the South Africa's interest in irrigation as it could not pay the development cost. The decision - not to build dams - was basically an economical one, but very much influenced by the fact that the dam basins along the Limpopo are very unfavorable and thus give very high unit costs for water, which the irrigation could not afford to pay (Van Rooyens, 1999). Cost of the dams in view to the benefits showed disbenefits to South Africa, as these schemes would require substantial subsidy for its irrigated land.

Despite the good relations between Botswana and South Africa, their individual interests could not merge in economic terms. Botswana went then to build a dam (Letsibogo) of its own on the Motloutse River (a Limpopo tributary in Botswana) in its national territory and South Africa was notified. Thus, Botswana transformed the anticipated but unfeasible joint project to a national project.

Future Inter-Basin Water Transfer Schemes and Joint Water Projects

As the use of limited water resources in national territories are increasing becoming scarce and almost all economic dam sites are already developed, utilization and joint developments of water resources in international rivers are becoming more important. If joint development on shared rivers are to be undertaken, factors analyzed in the last section should be given a high consideration. In terms of time, inter-basin water transfer scheme takes longer time. The LHWP took 40 years from the time of its original initiative in 1950s before it transferred water out of Lesotho to South Africa to make that dream a reality. Lesotho and South Africa are two riparian of the Orange Basin, but this would have been more difficult, if impossible, if one of the States was not a riparian to the basin.

This is a good lesson to any future plan to divert water from the major water-abundant rivers located north of the Limpopo and the Orange Basins. In order of magnitude, these are the Zambezi, which South Africa has no legal claim, and the Congo, which none of the countries in the Limpopo and the Orange Basins has legal right. However, the issue of inter-basin water transfer plays an important role of finding a way to cooperate over and develop shared river systems.


The management of water resources in international river basins is increasingly becoming critical and important from developmental, political, institutional and environmental perspectives. Much of the SADC region is water scarce and most countries in the region lack significant alternative sources of water to the shared rivers. These shared rivers make water one of the most important factors for cooperation and regional integration. Despite the recently revised text of the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses is promising, comprehensive and coordinated joint management and planning of shared rivers in this water-scarce and water-dependent region remain difficult. A high degree of regional cooperation require difficult decisions to be made by all SADC member States with regard to management and development of shared waters. The formation of an institutional structure probably represents one of the greatest obstacles that river basin States need to overcome. It is safe to conclude that international water resources can effectively be managed and optimally utilized in the presence of well-established and operated legal and institutional framework for cooperation in the form of River Basin Organization (RBO) where all basin countries are permanent and active members, if common security is to be achieved. Cooperation between States concerning international water resources is relevant, not only for the management of a scarce resource, but also as an instrument to build and strengthen bridges between nations and to maintain functional communication. It is also required to secure financial supports from donor and international communities. The multilateral cooperation over shared water resources may pave the way towards settlement of more contentious issues. In line with this argument, international water cooperation can be a confidence-building exercise, as it can set the stage for greater dialogue amongst nations, possibly leading to increase political, scientific and diplomatic contacts.

The Limpopo and the Orange River Basins are international river basins located in water scarce but developing region with increasing demand for water. Supporting areas of economic activities, the two basins' water resources are fairly developed for variety of purposes, and further developments in the future are also planned and inevitable.

In both river basins, efforts to establish a collaborative mechanism for cooperation and joint development have been made. Identifying four bilateral and one multilateral river cooperation, it was found that countries cooperate more on bilateral basis than multilateral. Despite of having fragmented systems of institutional mechanism, bilateral cooperation proved to function more practical than multilateral framework, as basin countries find easier to cooperate on bilateral basis. Although it is not a sustainable framework for shared river cooperation in the long-term, bilateralism is coordination rather than integration and gives short-term benefits. The bilateral organization has practical (technical) advantages while the multilateral one, if materialized, has political advantages. The LHWC and LBPTC, established in the same year, have different achievements. The reason might be that the LHWC is bilateral while the LBPTC is multilateral, but more importantly the LHWP had specific issues to address i.e. the LHWP while the LBPTC was covering a wide range of issues with no immediate economic benefit and interest to the basin countries. Structure/type of cooperation, objective and individual riparian interests in the cooperation therefore seem to be the main factors influencing establishment and operation of cooperation in shared river basin.

As previous perceptions and policies based on bilateralism are now changing, stronger political commitments are therefore necessary for establishing a basin-wide multilateral framework. The two cases clearly show complexity to find a common platform to establish a basin-wide commission for collaboration between all basin States. International collaboration in the two river basins has yet to reach the stage where the technical-operational, legal-institutional and political processes are well balanced. Countries in the two basins are agreed in principle to create basin multilateral river commissions but in practical their cooperation seem it does not progress from meeting and discussion. It also proves that establishment of a multilateral river commission demands long period of preparation. In the future it may be more difficult to operationalize them.
Socio-economic and political conditions have major influence on establishment as well as operation of joint institutions in international river systems. Impact that the political factor has on the establishment and functionality of a cooperation over international freshwater is significant. The LHPW was needed for the economic development of South Africa but implemented when the political conditions became favorable. Political differences between the Limpopo Basin countries and lack of specific objectives hampered the development of the LBPTC. The establishment of the LBPTC was not economically motivated, and that is why it could not function for about a decade. South Africa's political change in 1994 impacted positively shared water situation in the case study area, as it reactivated the LBPTC. Despite the fact that IWRM is essential, cooperation should address specific issues, such as hydropower development or water transfer. On such a basis of specific issues, Lesotho and South Africa have jointly implemented the LHWP and benefited economically through sharing the cost and benefits from the cooperation. This approach emphasizes a shift from water right to benefit sharing on the basis of the needs.

The LHWP became possible because of (i) the physical advantages of the Senqu River in Lesotho; (ii) the economic benefits to both countries and (iii) the favorable political relation between the two. In any joint water project on internationally shared river, these three factors should be taken into considerations. To find a condition in which all these factors are dealt with seems to be difficult. That is why there are few joint projects on shared river system in the world. If anticipated joint water project become unfeasible, nations transform it into a national project of their own. Water development projects on international rivers and inter-basin water transfer schemes take longer time. In additional to these three factors, environmental and social issues associated with the water resources development projects are also increasing becoming topical factors.


I acknowledge the support provided by Prof. Klas Cederwall and Dr. Gunilla Björklund and important inputs from a number of persons including Prof. Asit Biswas, Prof. Mikiyasu Nakayama, Prof. Jan Lundqvist, Dr. Peter Ashton and Dr. Aaron Wolf. I would also like to express my gratitude to the University of Pretoria particularly Mr. Anthony Turton and to all agencies and people I met during my study visit to Southern African region.


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