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River Basin Organisations  

All major river basins in the SADC region are transboundary basins. Amongst the most important are those of the Congo, Zambezi, Limpopo, Orange-Senqu, Okavango and Kunene. They all have some kind of River Basin Organisation (RBO) to organise the common use of the water and to prevent conflicts on water. This page synthesizes some basic information on selected RBOs in the SADC region. For more details see

Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM)

The Governments of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa formalised the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) through the signing of the "Agreement for the Establishment of the Orange-Senqu Commission" on November 2000. ORASECOM was the first commission established following the regional ratification of the SADC Protocol on Shared Water Course Systems.


ORASECOM members have increased their knowledge through study tours in other transboundary basins.
Source: Vogel 2009
( click to enlarge )

International Commission of Congo-Oubanqui-Sanqha (CICOS)

The International Commission for the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS) is a relatively new RBO and was only created in 1999. Member states of CICOS are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. The main objective of CICOS is to improve cooperation amongst the member states, through improved communication using the Congo River and its tributaries. In recent years attention has been on large hydropower projects that use the large quantities of water from the Congo River.


Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB)

The Pangani River Basin is shared by Kenya and Tanzania and covers about 42 000 km2 . The two countries established the Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB) and the Pangani Basin Water Office (PBWO) in July 1991 to jointly manage the water resources in the basin. The PBWO reports to the PBWB. The Board’s task is to advise the basin water officer on all matters concerning: the apportionment of water supplies; the determination, diminution or modification of water rights; measures to be taken in case of drought; and priorities to be given to different water uses in the basin.


Permanent Okavango River basin Water Commission (OKACOM)

The three Okavango Basin states Angola, Botswana and Namibia signed an agreement in 1994 that formed the Permanent Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM).

The Agreement commits the member states to promote coordinated and environmentally sustainable regional water resources development, while addressing the legitimate social and economic needs of each of the riparian states. The three countries recognise the implications that developments upstream of the river can have on the resource downstream. Most of the river is currently undeveloped and is recognized as one of the few "near pristine" rivers in the world.


The Okavango Delta.
Source: Gomez 2006
( click to enlarge )

Inkomati Tripartite Permanent Technical Committee (TPTC)

The Tripartite Permanent Technical Committee (TPTC) is a collaboration between three SADC member states namely, South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. The cooperation on the joint management of the Inkomati Basin started in 1992, when South Africa and Swaziland signed the Komati Accord. In 2002 Mozambique joined the Accord and TPTC was founded as one of the first RBOs in southern Africa.

One of the main objectives of TPTC is to manage the water flow of the Inkomati River and Maputo River, particularly during times of drought and flood.

Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA)

Lake Tanganyika is Africa’s oldest and deepest lake, and contains almost 17% of the world’s available freshwater. Millions of people depend on the lake for water, food, and transportation.

The Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA) was established in December 2008 by the governments of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia. Its management structure includes the Conference of Ministers, the Management Committee and the Secretariat. The LTA promotes regional cooperation required for socio-economic development and sustainable management of the natural resources in the Lake Tanganyika basin.

Furthermore, the LTA coordinates the implementation of the Convention on the Sustainable Management of Lake Tanganyika. The LTA also coordinates and oversees the implementation of the Regional Integrated Management Programme, which focuses on establishment of sustainable fisheries, catchment management, pollution control, climate change adaptations, and monitoring programs.


Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM)

The agreement to establish the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) was signed in 2004 by Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Zambia is yet to sign as the country is still consulting its stakeholders. Currently, seven of the eight countries have signed the protocol, but only four out of the seven have ratified it, with Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe still outstanding. The Commission will only come into force when six out of eight countries ratify the Agreement. Meanwhile an interim Secretariat has been established and a draft document prepared to guide the process of operation.

Ruvuma Joint Water Commission

The Governments of the Republic of Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania have very recently established the Ruvuma Joint Water Commission with the principal objective of ensuring sustainable development and equitable utilisation of common water resources of Ruvuma River basin.

The Ruvuma River forms the boundary between Mozambique and Tanzania for a length of 650 km from the coast and has a total length of about 760 km. The entire area of Ruvuma River basin is about 152,200 km2 of which 65.39% are in Mozambique, 34.30% are in Tanzania, and 0.31% is in Malawi (SADC 2008).





Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

Video Interviews about the integrated and transboundary management of the Kunene River basin

Explore the principles of Integrated Water Resource Management applied to the Kunene