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The River Basin
Basins of Southern Africa
 The Kunene River Basin
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Basins of Southern Africa  

There are 15 recognised transboundary river basins in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. They range in size from the large Congo River basin (3 730 470 km²) in the northern part of SADC, to Umbeluzi River basin (5 500 km²) in the southeast. The Zambezi River basin (1 390 000 km²) covers eight SADC member states. It is estimated that about 70 % of the water resources in the SADC region are shared by more than one country. Thus one of the characteristic features in the region are shared watercourse systems, with complex water rights and potential conflicts over utilisation of the shared resources.

The table below lists the river basins, selected river charateristcs (basin area, river length and mean annual runoff [MAR]) and the riparian states that they include.

Transboundary River Basins in SADC

River Basin Area (km²) River Length (km) MAR
Riparian States
Buzi 31 000 250 2.5 Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Congo 3 730 470 4 700 1 260 000 Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Congo,
Cameroon, DR Congo, Zambia
Cuvelai 100 000 430 Ephemeral Angola, Namibia
Incomati 49 965 480 3.5 South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique
Kunene 106 500 1 050 5.5 Angola, Namibia
Limpopo 408 000 1 750 5.5 Botswana, South Africa,
Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Maputo-Usutu-Pongola 32 000 380 2.5 South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique
Nile 3 254 555 6 700 86.0 Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda,
Kenya, Uganda, D R Congo,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt
Okavango 530 000 1 100 11.0 Angola, Namibia,
Zimbabwe, Botswana
Orange-Senqu 721 000 2 300 11.5 Lesotho, South Africa,
Bostwana, Namibia
Pungwe 32 500 300 3.0 Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Ruvuma 155 500 800 15.0 Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique
Save/Sabi 106 420 740 7.0 Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Umbeluzi 5 500 200 0.6 Swaziland, Mozambique
Zambezi 1 390 000 2 650 94.0 Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi,
Tanzania, Mozambique

Source: adapted from SADC 2010

The map below shows the distribution of transboundary river basins in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

The international river basins of southern Africa.
Source: Hatfield 2010
( click to enlarge )




Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

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

Explore the interactions of living organisms in aquatic environments

Examine how the hydrologic cycle moves water through and around the earth