Orange River agreement revised

The revision of such agreements is necessary to negotiate equitable access for Namibia to the waters of the perennial rivers on the country's borders.

21 September 2020 | International

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein has recommended that the National Assembly ratifies the revised Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission (Orasecom) agreement.

The agreement between Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa was revised to align it with global and SADC frameworks for shared water management.

The revised agreement will elevate the roles and functions of the commission and its member states towards joint management of shared Orange-Senqu river waters and Namibia's position, especially when negotiating for its reasonable and equitable share.

Schlettwein on Tuesday motivated the ratification of the revised agreement in parliament.



History

Namibia signed the revised agreement in April 2018 and the cabinet authorised that the agreement should be tabled for ratification in the National Assembly.

Schlettwein said the revision of these agreements is necessary to negotiate reasonable and equitable access for Namibia to the waters of the perennial rivers on the country's borders.

He said it is also necessary to align the agreement with the framework provided by the revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses and the SADC Water Policy, and to consolidate the existing international cooperation on shared river systems.



Outdated

The Orasecom commission was established by an agreement signed on 3 November 2000 in Windhoek between the four states.

The agreement served as the legal instrument governing the joint utilisation of the water resources in the basin, as well as the sustainable management of the basin as whole.

According to Schlettwein, the implementation of the projects and programmes within the framework of the old Orasecom agreement revealed that it was outdated and did not provide for some key policy and institutional issues.

“This state of affairs led to the review of the agreement.”

Some of the pertinent provisions of the revised agreement are for the secretariat to coordinate Orasecom activities, implement its decisions and serve as a repository of information with regards to the Orange-Senqu River Basin.

The secretariat will also act as a focal point for Orasecom with all external parties, perform administrative functions, conduct communication and promotion for Orasecom, do resource mobilisation and develop and manage programmes and projects.

“The composition of the commission is now clearly provided for in the revised agreement.

The ministers responsible for water affairs are now included in the composition of the commission as members of the Forum of the Parties to be the highest decision-making organ of the commission, with their annual and extraordinary meetings properly provided for,” said Schlettwein.

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