Integrated river basin management coordinates the management of land and water resources for multiple purposes. For this purpose transboundary river basin organisations are typically established either to ensure coordinated water resources management between riparian countries on a shared water course or to enable joint development and management of water resources infrastructure between two or more countries. The respective agreements provide the legal framework and mandate for the functioning of these organisations. National governments’ water departments or ministries engage with these institutions in terms of their national interests.
For more information on the main functions of River Basin Organisations, please refer to the River Basin Organisations section.
At the basin level, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa are members of the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM). The objectives of ORASECOM are to advise the riparian states and provide recommendations on the protection, preservation and management of the resources of the Orange-Senqu River. The agreement recognises the objectives of the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses in the Southern African Development Community”. ORASECOM is a fairly young organization that is still developing.
A number of international bodies are stakeholders of river basin organisations like ORASECOM:
The African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW), established in 2002, operates across the continent and is the highest political water management body in Africa. Recommendations are being finalised to make AMCOW a Specialised Technical Committee of the African Union.
Regionally, the SADC Water Division has been tasked with creating an enabling environment for the integrated management of shared watercourses. Supporting this integrated approach are the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses and the Regional Strategic Action Plans.
Bilateral agreements and institutions for transboundary water resources management have also been established in the Orange-Senqu River basin and are extremely relevant for the work of ORASECOM. The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) in Lesotho and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) in South Africa supervise and coordinate the work on the Lesotho Highlands Project. The Permanent Water Commission (PWC), formed by Namibia and South Africa in 1992, advises both governments on the development possibilities of the Lower Orange, the section of the river that forms their mutual border.
The ORASECOM Agreement stipulates that agreements that came into force prior to the ORASECOM Agreement remain unaffected by the new agreement (GEF 2008). Furthermore, the rights and obligations stipulated in bilateral agreements remain unchanged by the ORASECOM Agreement. Therefore, ORASECOM has no formal role related to the pre-existing institutions. However, there is a formal expectation that the institutions will communicate items that impact other members, as stipulated in the ORASECOM Agreement.