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Transboundary River Basin Level Agreements  

There has been a long History of cooperation between the Limpopo River basin states, including a number of Bilateral and regional agreements related to water management. Cooperation within the basin has fluctuated over time, due in part to the changing economic and political climate within the basin.

Limpopo Basin Permanent Technical Committee

The Limpopo Basin Permanent Technical Committee (LBPTC) was established in 1986 as the first basin wide agreement governing the Limpopo River basin. The mandate of the LBPTC was to advise the parties on transboundary issues related to the management and utilisation of the Limpopo (SADC 2003a). The organisation was set up to address joint management issues, such as, the division of flows, flooding, drought, pollution, and programmes and activities that would promote benefits for all the riparians.

The LBPTC was less active for the first half of the 1990s due to political conditions within the basin, which hampered the effectiveness of the organisation. The organisation was also hindered by its institutional structure, and the lack of formalised rules and procedures and a dispute resolution mechanism (Amaral and Sommerhalder 2004). Despite these challenges, the LBPTC helped to build cooperation among the riparian states and undertook a number of important initiatives. In 2005, the LBPTC produced a LIMCOM Action Plan in conjunction with the SADC Water Sector Unit and in 2010 the LBPTC completed the Joint Limpopo Basin Study Scoping Phase.

Limpopo River Basin Commission

In 2003, representatives from Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique signed the Agreement on the Establishment of the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (hereafter referred to as the Agreement). The objectives of the Commission, as outlined in the Agreement, 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”. It also acknowledges the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses and Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

The Agreement provides for some of the key success factors that promote Flexibility in International Agreements. These include providing dispute resolution mechanisms, amendment and review processes, revocation clauses and the appropriate institutional responsibilities. However, the Agreement does not specify allocation strategies or specifically discuss benefit sharing.

Macarretane Barrage, Mozambique, on the main stem of the Limpopo River.
Source: Vogel 2010
( click to enlarge )

 



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