National Policies & Laws: Mozambique

The legislative framework in Mozambique consists of the 1990 Constitution and the Water Law developed in 1991 (Law 16/91, of August 3, 1991). The 1991 Water Law is based on a river basin approach to water management (FAO 2005a). The Water Law provided the basis for reforms within the water sector and outlined the institutional structure and the principles and policies for water management in Mozambique (DFID 1999; SADC 2003c). The Water Law is designed to create a participatory and decentralised system of water management within the country.

The role of the private sector in providing water services and the economic value of water are clearly outlined in the Law. Water uses are classified in common and private use. Common use is free and except from license and aims to meet the domestic and person water needs, including small scale farming (DFID 1999). Private use is given by concession or through law.

The objective of the Water Law, as outlined in Article 2, is to define in relation to interior waters (DFID 1999):

  • The public domain and the policy for its management
  • The legal regime of the activities of promotion and conservation, inventory, use, control and monitoring of the water resources
  • The competencies given to the Government in relation to the water in the public domain.

In 1995, a National Water Policy was approved through Resolution 7/95 (DFID 1999). The National Water Policy outlines specific strategies for the main areas of urban and peri-urban water supply, rural water supply, sanitation and integrated water resource management (SADC 2003c).

The National Water Policy aims to decentralise water resources management to autonomous entities at the basin and provincial levels. According to the policy, the Government defines priorities, guidelines and minimum service delivery levels, but does not deliver services (DFID 1999). Integrated water management is promoted within the policy as a means to optimise the benefits to communities, while also considering environmental impacts and sustainability of resources over time.

The main elements of the policy are summarised in the box below.

Principal elements of Mozambique's Water Policy

“The overall goal of the National Water Policy is to improve water and sanitation services and increase the degree of coverage in both urban and rural areas. The principal policies identified are:

  1. Satisfaction of basic needs, particularly of rural, low income groups.
  2. Participation of beneficiaries in water resource management and service delivery.
  3. Recognition of the economic as well as the social value of water.
  4. Decentralisation of water resource management and service delivery.
  5. Supportive, not implementing, role for Government.
  6. Allocation of water on principles of integrated water resource management.
  7. High level of investment in water and sanitation, with balance between investment for economic development and for poverty alleviation and improved public health.
  8. Commitment to capacity building to ensure sufficient skills to implement the water policy.
  9. Involvement of the private sector in service provision, subject to regulation.”

Source: SADC 2003c

The Water Tariff Policy approved in 1998 (Resolution 60/98) contains six main principles for establishing water tariffs (DFID 1999):

  • User pays
  • Environmental protection and efficient use of water
  • Equity under which tariffs should be applied to guarantee basic supply of water and sanitation services to the general population
  • Sustainability that aims to guarantee investment returns to companies and other services
  • Decentralisation
  • Participative management to encourage cooperation between suppliers and consumers of water and to encourage mechanisms for decentralisation

The National Irrigation Policy, adopted in 2002, outlines the strategic importance of irrigation in the country (FAO 2005a).

Additional water legislation includes (DFID 1999):

  • “Decree 25/91, of November 14, 1991, that determines the entry into force of the
  • Decree 8/96, of April 2, that alters the composition of CNA;
  • Decree 72/98, of December 23, 1998, that establishes the Framework for
  • Delegated Management;
  • Decree 73/98, of December 23,1998, that establishes the Investment and Assets Fund for Water Supply (FIPAG - Fundo de Investimento e Património do
  • Abastecimento de Água);
  • Decree 74/98, of December 23, 1998, that establishes the Regulatory Council for Water Supply (CRA - Conselho de Regulação de Abastecimento de Água);
  • Ministerial Diploma 134/93, of November 17, 1993, that approved the Statutes of South Regional Water Management Authority (ARA Sul - Administração Regional de Águas Sul)
  • Ministerial Diploma 163/96, of December 25, 1996, that approved the bylaw of ARA – Sul.”


Institutional Responsibilities

Under the 1991 Water, the National Water Directorate within the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MOPH) is responsible for policy making and implementation, overall planning and management of the country’s water resources and the provision of water supply and sanitation services.

The National Directorate for Agricultural Hydraulics (DNHA) within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER) maintains responsibility for activities relating to irrigation and drainage (FAO 2005a).

The 1991 Water Law emphasises the need for intersectoral coordination and instituted an institutional framework to enable this through the National Water Council (CNA - Conselho Nacional de Águas). The National Water Council was established as an advisory committee under the Water Law designed to advise the Government on issues related to water management and the implementation of water policy (DFID 1999). The National Water Council consists of the following members:

  • Ministry of Public Works and Housing
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
  • Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism
  • Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy
  • Ministry of State Administration
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Coordination of Environmental Affairs

The membership of the National Water Council demonstrates the importance of water in Mozambique and the central government’s commitment to water management (DFID 1999); however, the coordination amongst the various ministries has been a constant challenge (FAO 2005a).

Article 18 of the Water Law gives jurisdiction over water management to Regional Water Authorities (Administração Regional de Águas – ARA), which were established on the basis of water basins (DFID 1999). The ARAs maintains financial and organisational autonomy, but report to the National Water Directorate.

Five regional water management authorities were established (DFID 1999):

  • ARA Sul (South), covering the south border of the country to the basin of the Save river
  • ARA Centro (Central), which includes the basin of the Save river to the basin of the Zambezi river
  • ARA Zambezi that consists of the basin of the Zambezi river
  • ARA Centro Norte (Central North) covering the region from the basin of the Zambezi river to Lúrio river
  • ARA Norte (North), which consists of the basin of the Lúrio river to the northern border
ARA Regions of Mozambique.


The ARAs are responsible for collecting hydrological information, controlling the irrigation systems, and collecting water fees. By 2000, ARA Sul (South) was the only operational water management authority (FAO 2005a).


Regulatory Framework for Transboundary Water Management

Mozambique's policy on transboundary water resources is outlined in Article 14 of the Water Law (SADC 2003c):

  • “Integrated water resource management in shared river basins which takes into account the interests of all riparian states
  • Proper allocation and joint utilisation of shared water
  • Joint planning and implementation of studies and infrastructural projects
  • Control of pollution and soil erosion to protect water quality
  • Exchange of information on matters of common interest”

Mozambique is the downstream country in nine transboundary river basins highlighting the importance of transboundary water management (SADC 2003c). Reflecting this importance, the National Water Directorate established an International Rivers Office (Gabinete de Rios Internacionais – GRI), which is mandating with liaising with neighbouring countries and with the SADC Water Sector.

Mozambique played an important role in the negotiation of the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses and was the first country to lodge instruments of ratification with the SADC Secretariat (SADC 2003c). The National Water Act was subsequently amended to be aligned with the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses(UN Habitat/UNEP 2007).


Regulatory Framework for Disaster Management

The Government of Mozambique adopted the Disaster Management Policy in 1999, which promotes community participation and encourages the development of alternative mitigation measures (UN Habitat/UNEP 2007). In 2002, a draft Disaster Management Law was developed, but has not yet been passed by parliament.

The National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) is responsible for the implementation of the disaster management policy directives. INGC works closely with the Coordination Council for Disaster Management (CCGC), which is chaired by the Prime Ministry and comprised of other Ministries (UN Habitat/UNEP 2007). The National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) is tasked with maintaining the early warning system, while the National Directorate of Water Affairs (DNA) monitors river flows.

DNA Headquarters, Maputo, Mozambique. Source: Hatfield 2010



There have been challenges in the coordination of the National Water Council and slow progress in operationalising the Regional Water Authorities (FAO 2005a). The scarcity of technically qualified personnel and financial resources within the water sector continues to be a constraint (SADC 2003a). Water coverage has improved in the country, but is still low. Decentralisation has attempted to increase the participation of stakeholders in decision making, but stakeholders are still far removed from decision and policy making (GTZ 2005).

Summarise the legislative and policy framework, and the respective institutions responsible for water management in the country.

Current ongoing initiatives.

LIMCOM's current ongoing interventions being undertaken