River Basin Organisations

Integrated river basin management coordinates the management of land and water resources for multiple purposes, and can be considered a basin-scale application of integrated water resource management (Hooper 2008). A critical issue is coordination of management across different sectors, different disciplines and various groups.

To manage land and water resources using this integrated approach, many stakeholders must coordinate operations at different scales (Hooper 2008). Stakeholders include individual water users, government agencies, industry, non-government organisations (NGO’s), and any other stakeholders who are directly or indirectly concerned with transboundary water management. Stakeholder groups can be found at different spatial locations and levels of government and may change over time (Sadoff et al. 2008).

IWRM takes place at scales from local to international, but at the basin scale, decisions for river basin management occur at macro and meso scales.

River basin management requires clear roles for government agencies, the private sector, non-government organisations and other stakeholders. River basin planning procedures involve the allocation of land and water resources to optimise national (or international) investments, and result in a basin management plan or strategy, supported by legislation and water policy within the countries which share the basin (Hooper 2008).

Transboundary river basin organisations are typically established either to ensure coordinated water resources management between riparian countries on a shared water course (often referred to as commissions), or to enable joint development and management of water resources infrastructure between two or more countries. These organisations evolve over time through coordinating bodies to institutions established by agreement or treaty between cooperating parties. Where established, these agreements provide the legal framework and mandate for the functioning of these organisations, and provide for the delegation of functions and powers. National governments’ water departments or ministries engage with these institutions in terms of national strategic interests.

For more information on the main functions of River Basin Organisations, please refer to the River Basin Organisations section.


River Basin Organisation Stakeholders

At the basin level, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe are members of the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM). The objectives of LIMCOM are to advise the riparians and provide recommendations on the protection, preservation and management of the Limpopo. Agreement recognises the “spirit, value and objectives of the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses in the Southern African Development Community”. LIMCOM is a very new organisation that is still evolving.

Bilateral cooperation

The nations of the Limpopo River basin have demonstrated their cooperative spirit through a number of Regional, Basin and Bilateral Agreements. A summary of bilateral agreements between the Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe are summarised below:

  • The Joint Permanent Technical Water Committee (JPTC) between Botswana with South Africa (1987)
  • An Agreement between Botswana and South Africa to transfer water from the Molatedi Dam on the Marico River, a tributary of the Limpopo, in South Africa to Gaborone in Botswana (1988)
  • Joint Water Commission between Mozambique and South Africa (1996)
  • Joint Water Commission between Mozambique and Zimbabwe to address issues related to transboundary watercourses, including the Pungwe, Buzi and Save River basins (2002)
The Interim Secretary, Mr. Sitoe of LIMCOM speaks with a stakeholder of the basin in Mozambique. Source: Qwist-Hoffmann 2010


Other agencies

Continental Scale

The African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW), established in 2002, operates across the continent and is the highest political water management body in Africa. Programmatically, AMCOW is closely linked to NEPAD (ORASECOM 2007c). Recommendations are being finalised to make AMCOW a Specialised Technical Committee of the African Union (AMCOW 2008).

Regional Scale

Regionally, the SADC Water Division has been tasked with creating an enabling environment for the integrated management of shared watercourses. Supporting this integrated approach are the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses and the Regional Strategic Action Plan.

Current ongoing initiatives.

LIMCOM's current ongoing interventions being undertaken