18 June 2003

Southern Africa: Water Management in SADC Given a Boost

Johannesburg — The European Commission (EC) has made US $8.6 million available for sustained integrated planning and management of water resources in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Water resources in the SADC region were unevenly distributed both seasonally and geographically, and "the sharing of major river basins could be a source of conflict and political instability", an EC statement noted.

"Flooding, as a result of torrential rains, has taken its toll on the population while causing extensive damage to property and livestock. The year 2000 was particularly devastating along the downstream areas of the major trans-boundary rivers, especially in Mozambique," the EC added.

"In view of the importance of the role that water plays in ensuring the livelihood of people in the SADC region", water management constituted an "excellent vehicle for regional integration" and conflict prevention.

"The current project is planned for four years and will be managed by the SADC Secretariat. The project includes institutional and organisational support, creation of a Water Sector Coordinating Unit to implement a Regional Strategic Action Plan, support and resource studies for the Orange-Sengu River Commission and the Maputo Basin, and expansion of SADC's 'Hydrological Cycle Observing System' (HYCOS)," the EC said.

EC Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, signed the financing agreement with South Africa to support the Water Sector in SADC.

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