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International water issues

In order to facilitate the development of water resources of common interest, in 1992 the governments of Swaziland and South Africa signed a treaty for the establishment and functioning of the Joint Water Commission. In addition to any other functions or powers conferred on the Commission, it advises the two countries on all technical matters relating to the following:

  • The criteria to be adopted in the allocation of the utilizable portion of water resources of common interest between the two countries;
  • The investigations for the development of water resources of common interest by the two countries, including the construction, operation and maintenance of any water works;
  • The prevention of, and exercise of control over, the pollution of water resources of common interest.

Another international body is the Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA), which is a bilateral company formed in 1993 under the Treaty on the Development and Utilization of the Water Resources of the Komati River Basin, 1992, entered between the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Government of the Republic of South Africa. Its purpose is to implement Phase 1 of the Komati River Basin Development Project comprising the design, construction and maintenance of Driekoppes Dam in South Africa and the Maguga Dam in Swaziland. Both the Treaty of the Establishment and Functioning of the Joint Water Commission and the Treaty on the Development and Utilization of the Water Resources of the Komati River Basin recognize the rights of Mozambique to a reasonable and equitable share of the water resources of shared rivers.

A Tripartite Technical Committee (TCTP), established under the Tripartite Agreements between Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique, is responsible inter alia for the identification and prioritization of capacity-building challenges and opportunities in the water sectors of the three parties and the establishment of regime allocations.

The member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed a protocol on shared watercourses (Protocol on Shared Watercourses in SADC, 2000). The overall objectives of the protocol are to foster closer cooperation for judicious, sustainable and coordinated management, protection and utilization of shared watercourses and to advance the SADC agenda of regional integration and poverty alleviation. In order to achieve this objective, the Protocol seeks to:

  • Promote and facilitate the establishment of shared watercourse agreements and shared watercourse institutions for the management of shared watercourses;
  • Advance the sustainable, equitable and reasonable utilization of shared watercourses;
  • Promote a coordinated, integrated and environmentally sound development and management of shared watercourses;
  • Promote the harmonization and monitoring of legislation and policies for planning, development, conservation, protection of shared watercourses, and allocation of the resources;
  • Promote research and technology development, information exchange, capacity building, and the application of appropriate technologies in shared watercourses management.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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