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Water Governance



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National Governments  

Government as an Enabler or Facilitator

Participatory approaches to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) involve raising awareness of the importance of IWRM among policy-makers and the general public. To enable this, government should replace prescriptive, centralised approaches to development with a framework within which participatory, demand-driven sustainable development can take place. When governments adopt a facilitating and arbitrating role, the state bears a lesser burden, yet public functions are performed better. Governments need to create conditions under which stakeholders can become engaged and negotiate acceptable solutions amongst themselves.

Large infrastructure projects need support from national governments.
Source: GTZ 2009
( click to enlarge )

Government as Regulator and Controller

Policy-making, planning, water allocation, monitoring, enforcement and final conflict resolution are responsibilities of government. National governments set the legal and regulatory framework within which environmental management and development activities occur. Actions by civil society and business are governed and influenced by the policies and regulations imposed by government. Government is also responsible for defining future priorities and setting development directions and for regulating and controlling specialist service providers. The private sector, or independent parastatals, can also play an important role in the provision of water services, however being subject to monitoring and control by some regulatory entity. The trend away of governments providing some core services has been fuelled by many factors, including increasing difficulties faced by many governments in financing the necessary investments in water resources.

Government as Service Provider

Given that water services contain clear public-good elements (e.g. environmental protection, public safety) continued public investment is necessary. Where governments retain provision functions, it is important that provider agencies should not regulate themselves; separation of regulatory and implementation functions helps ensure transparency and accountability.


In Angola, the Ministry of Energy and Water (MinEA) is responsible for water governance on a national level. It acts mainly through its National Water Directorate. For the management of water resources, a National Water Council is to be formed which will be an umbrella body for a decentralised structure of Catchment Councils (SADC 2003).

In order to properly manage of the Kunene River basin the Ministry created the Office for the Administration of the Kunene Hydrograph Basin (Gabinete para a Administração da Bacia Hidrográfica do Cunene - GABHIC).

The main objectives of GABHIC are to:

  • Assure the integrated management of the water resources of the Kunene River basin;
  • Guarantee the multi-sector technical and administrative support for PJTC, defined in the act nº 3/PR/91 from January 22, 1991, aiming for the development and use of the hydrological potential of the Kunene basin;
  • Promote the preparative works, studies and projects for the rational and integrated use of the water resources in the Kunene basin.

In order to achieve its objectives GABHIC's main activities include:

  • Promoting Development and Utilization Plans for the use of the potential of the Kunene basin,
  • Optimising the exploitation of different water sources, meeting the various water demands, ensuring the qualitative and quantitative conservation of water resources and the economic use of available finances;
  • Promoting studies that enable the collection of data on the region's water resources, the study of the region’s hydrological cycle, water quality, the social and political problems arising from water use, environmental protection actions and improved use of existing water resources,
  • Guaranteeing appropriate water tariffs, in accordance with the general policy to develop south-western Angola;
  • Proposing actions for environmental protection against pollution and other noxious factors which may result from projects risking the ecological balance of the basin.

The Ministry of Environment (MinEnv) is responsible for the development and coordination of the country’s environmental policy and the National Environmental Management Program. The Ministry, through the National Directorate for Prevention and Environmental Impact Assessment, is required to review environmental impact studies for all projects that may have social or environmental implications, including those relating to the hydropower industry (ERM 2009).


The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) is mandated to promote, develop, manage and utilise water resources in Namibia in order to realise the potential of the water sector and promote an efficient and sustainable socio-economic development. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) within the ministry is made up of two directorates: the Directorate of Rural Water Supply (DRWS - recently renamed Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination / DWSSC) and the Directorate of Resource Management (which serves as the regulator for the bulk water service provider NamWater). Several specialist divisions undertake the functions and objectives of the department.

The Directorate of Rural Water Supply (DRWS) was established in September 1993 in the ministry as part of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, as a direct result of the approval by the Cabinet of the Water and Sanitation Sector Policy, with the mandate to take full responsibility for the implementation of rural water supply for the rural communities on communal land. The directorate has recently been renamed the Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination (DWSSC) reflecting the expansion of its mandate to ensure a sustainable supply of safe water and access to appropriate sanitation to rural communities.

Based on its mandate under the existing legislation and policy framework, the DWSSC has Vision, Mission and Value statements to guide its activities towards the ultimate Government goal of promoting and maintaining the welfare of the people. The statements concentrate primarily on the clients of the DWSSC, which are the rural communities.

The entity tasked with supplying Namibia with bulk water is the Namibia Water Corporation Ltd. (NamWater). NamWater is a commercial entity and supplies water for rural communities on behalf of the DRWS/DWSSC in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (see above), as well as to municipalities and various industries. The sole shareholder of NamWater is the Namibian Government, and it strives to provide its customers with a reliable source of good quality water at the lowest possible rates. The operation of NamWater is regulated by the Directorate for Resource Management (DRM) at the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is responsible for safeguarding Namibia’s environmental resources. Its mission is to maintain and rehabilitate essential ecological processes and life-support systems, to conserve biological diversity and to ensure that the utilization of natural resources is sustainable for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future, as well as the international community, as provided for in the Constitution.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) is also a stakeholder in the Kunene River Basin. This stems from the fact that this Ministry is responsible for overseeing the energy sector in Namibia, and the national power utility, NamPower. While Nampower is a limited company, it is wholly owned by the state, via the Ministry of Mines and Energy, and all its senior officials are appointed by the Minister. All developments concerning energy generation in Namibia are of direct interest and concern to the MME, and annual reports of Nampower are tabled by the MME in Parliament for approval. While Nampower has the transmission monopoly, MME is responsible for the rural electrification programme detached from the national grid. The Permanent Secretary of the MME is a Commissioner to the PJTC and acts as Co-Chairman for this body.

The current NamPower was established in 1964 as a private and fully affiliated company of the then Industrial Development Corporation of the Republic of South Africa. Its sole purpose then was to utilise the Kunene River for the generation of electric power and to distribute it primarily to the northern regions of the country. This resulted in the construction of three major structures on the river in the 1970s comprising the Kunene River Scheme, in addition to the already existing weir and power plant at Matala. The three structures are the Gove dam, the incomplete Calueque weir and the Ruacana weir and hydropower plant.




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