Water Governance in the Orange-Senqu River Basin:

National Water Laws

Effective water governance relies on appropriate laws and institutions—national, provincial and local—that require water to be managed in accordance with the principles of integrated water resource management. National laws and policies that identify the roles, responsibilities, and accountability of public and private sector actors provide a water management framework (GWP 2009a). National water laws and policies establish the rules governing the use of water resources and delineate decision making power for stakeholders involved in, or affected by, water management.

Harmonising the legislative frameworks of the Orange-Senqu riparian countries supports one of the strategic objectives of the SADC Regional Water Strategy (SADC 2007):

To promote the harmonisation of Member State’s national water policy, legislation and strategy with those of other Member States, the Regional Policy and Strategy and relevant international conventions and protocols.”

The legislative and policy framework, and the respective institutions responsible for water management in each of the member countries, are summarised below, and detailed in the subsequent sections.

Table: Legal and Policy Frameworks of the Orange-Senqu River basin countries.

Description Regional Botswana Lesotho Namibia South Africa
Water Policy

Regional Water Policy, SADC, 2006

  Lesotho Water and Sanitation Policy 2007 Namibia Water Supply and Sanitation Policy 2004

National Water Policy, 1997

Water Law

Revised Protocol On Shared Watercourses, SADC, 2000

Water Law [CAP 34:01] 1968

Water Resources Act 1978; Water Act 2008 Water Resources Management Act 2004

National Water Act No. 36, 1998

IWRM Strategy

Regional Water Strategy, 2007

Under development Lesotho National Water Resources Management Policy (NWRMP) 1999  

National Water Resources Strategy

Environmental Protection and Management  

National Policy on Natural Resources Conservation And Development, EIA Act, 6 of 2005

Environmental Act 2001 Environmental Management Act No. 7 of 2007

National Environmental Management Act No. 107, 1998

Sources: SADC 2003

The laws and institutions related to water management are currently in transition in the countries of the Orange-Senqu River basin (ORASECOM 2007a). Poor governance and inconsistent policy and legislative frameworks have been identified as a barrier to basin-wide integration (SADC 2007).

Within the Orange-Senqu basin, large differences exist between the national water laws (Hiddema and Erasmus 2007). In South Africa the water law is comprehensive and unified in one newly-developed Act, and supports decentralised water management. Namibia is currently in the process of combining multiple old water Acts and one new, integrated water bill (Kranz et al.). Lesotho and Botswana are also in the process of revising their water legislation.

Laws and Policies are in place to protect the natural resources of the basin.
Source:ŠiStockphoto/Skinner 2006
( click to enlarge )