Orange-Senqu River

The Orange-Senqu River basin is the largest river basin in Africa south of the Zambezi River basin (Earle et al. 2005). This transboundary water resource covers large portions of South Africa and Lesotho as well as southern regions of Botswana and Namibia. Urban development over recent decades, and the corresponding development of water infrastructure have made the Orange-Senqu River basin ‘the most developed river basin in southern Africa’ (Earle et al. 2005).


The Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM)

The Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) was established by the Governments of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa through the"Agreement for the Establishment of the Orange-Senqu Commission" on 3 November 2000 in Windhoek, Namibia (Earle et al. 2005). ORASECOM is the first commission established following the regional ratification of the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses in the Southern African Development Community (Revised Protocol) in 2004.

The ORASECOM promotes the equitable and sustainable development of the resources of the Orange-Senqu River. ORASECOM provides a forum for consultation and coordination between the riparian states to promote integrated water resources management and development within the basin.

The goals of ORASECOM are to (Hollingworth 2007):

  • Develop a comprehensive perspective of the basin
  • Study the present and planned future uses of the river system
  • Determine the requirements for flow monitoring and flood managemen


Organisational Structure of ORASECOM

The highest body of ORASECOM is the Council, which is supported by various Task Teams who manage projects, and by a Secretariat. The Council serves as technical advisor to the Parties on matters related to development, utilisation and conservation of water resources.

The Council comprises delegations from each of the four member states. Each state delegates three representatives, drawn from its agency responsible for water affairs:

  • Botswana: Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources
  • Lesotho: Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Namibia: Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry
  • South Africa: Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs

ORASECOM is the only example of a River Basin Organisation in SADC that is financially supported solely by the member states.

The Orange-Senqu River basin provides an example of a river basin progressing towards cooperative management of transboundary water resources in SADC. These efforts are being supported by the development of a basin-wide Integrated Water Resources Management Plan.

The ORASECOM organisational structure. Source: ORASECOM 2009


The Orange-Senqu River basin. Source: Hatfield 2009


The Orange-Senqu River Awareness Kit

The Orange-Senqu River Awareness Kit (RAK) is an information and knowledge management tool for the Orange-Senqu River basin, to support capacity development and the sustainable management of the environment and resources within the basin. Included within the Orange-Senqu RAK are self-learning resources, supported by interactive visualisation tools, maps, documents and quizzes. The intended audience for the Orange-Senqu RAK is the broad spectrum of stakeholders in the Orange-Senqu River basin, including government agencies, river basin managers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and educational establishments, as well as the international community.

Current ongoing initiatives.

LIMCOM's current ongoing interventions being undertaken