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BUPUSACOM for shared watercourse promotes sustainable development


The Buzi, Pungwe, and Save Watercourses Commission (BUPUSACOM) was launched in Beira, Mozambique, on 19 July 2023, following the signing of the BUPUSA Water Courses Commission Establishment Agreement in Harare, Zimbabwe on 17 May 2023. The tri-basin institution will have oversight on the planning, development, and management of the water resources within the Buzi, Pungwe, and Save (BUPUSA) River Basins, which are exclusively shared by Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The SADC Secretariat congratulated the governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe on the successful signing and launching of the BUPUSACOM, the first tri-basin institution in the region.

“The SADC Secretariat views transboundary water management cooperation as a critical element in all forms of sustainable development and welcomes the BUPUSACOM to the family of shared watercourse institutions in the region”, Dr. Patrice Kabeya, Senior Programme Officer-Water in the SADC Secretariat.

In launching the commission, Honourable Cecilia Chamutota, Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources, reiterated the strategic importance of the Buzi, Pungwe, and Save (BUPUSA) basins to Mozambique.

“The Chicamba Hydroelectric Dam, the Mavuzi Dam, Muda Nhaurire, Gorongosa, Chitundo and Mavonde dams were built along the BUPUSA Basins”, said Hon Chamutota.

“The dams are vital for the economic development of Mozambique, due to their contribution to the water supply to the population, agricultural production industry and electricity generation as well as environmental preservation”.

The launch of the Commission was commended by the government of Zimbabwe, which vowed its commitment to support the realisation of the roadmap for the Commission.

Said Hon. Davis Mharapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development – Zimbabwe, “As stipulated in the BUPUSA Hosting and Establishment Agreements, the Zimbabwean Government is committed to supporting the Commission in its work within the basins”.

In that regard, the Government nominated Mr Elisha Madamombe, as the interim executive secretary during the transition of the Commission into a fully-fledged River Basin Organisation. Elisha is the Regional Coordinator for the BUPUSA Project.

He emphasised the need for joint infrastructure development by the two countries to counter the challenges in the basins, which are dominated by cyclical floods and droughts.

Recognising the need for joint management and development of shared watercourses management of shared water resources, the SADC Secretariat developed and adopted instruments, including the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses (2000), the Regional Water Policy (2005) and the Regional Water Strategy (2006).

Realising the benefits of cooperation and in line with the SADC Protocol, the governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe established a Joint Water Commission (JWC) in 2002. The JWC, the cooperative instrument between the riparian states, acts as a technical advisor to the parties on all technical matters relating to the development and utilization of water resources of common interest.

In parallel to the technical work, the JWC has made remarkable progress on negotiations and elaboration of the following transboundary Agreements.

  • Co-operation on the Development, Management and Sustainable Utilisation of the Water Resources of the Pungwe Watercourse (signed in July 2016),
  • Co-operation on the Development, Management and Sustainable Utilisation of the Water Resources of the Buzi Watercourse (signed in July 2019),
  • Co-operation on the Development, Management and Sustainable Utilisation of the Water Resources of the Save Watercourse (signed in May 2023),
  • The Establishment of the Buzi, Pungwe and Save Watercourses Commission (BUPUSA COMMISSION) – (signed in May 2023), and
  • The Hosting of the BUPUSA Commission Secretariat (signed in May 2023). The above milestones were achieved through the support of the following agencies:
  • The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Pungwe Basin Transboundary Integrated Water Resources Management and Development Programme.
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) with funding from Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany) (BMZ) and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the then Department for International Development (DFID), through the fourth phase of the SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan on Integrated Water Resources Development and Management (RSAP IV)
  • USAID Resilient Waters Programme (USAID)
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through the Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE) Programme
  • Global Environmental Facility (GEF), through the BUPUSA Project
  • Department for International Development (DFID) through Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Fund (CRIDF)

GWPSA supported the finalisation of the negotiation process that led to the signing of the Buzi agreements through the Buzi, Pungwe, Save Tri-Basin Project under the SADC-GIZ Transboundary Water Management in SADC (GIZ-TWM) Programme –implemented on behalf of the SADC Secretariat. Support has also been provided during the last phase of the negotiations for the Save Water Sharing Agreement and the BUPUSA Establishment and Hosting Agreements as part of the deliverables of the GEF- Funded USD 6 million project being implemented in the three basins by IUCN with GWPSA as the regional executing Partner supporting the two governments.

The four-year project focuses on, strengthening water-related risk management through the reinforcement of monitoring, enhancing ecosystem services through quantitative water management, including operationalization of environmental flows. Moreover, the project is developing a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis and the Strategic Action Plan (SAP)for the basins.

“Through the Continental Africa Water Investment Programme, the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) commits to support the commission’s resource mobilisation efforts and development of the BUPUSA Water Investment Programme, which will include and align with the basins’ SAP”, said Mr Alex Simalabwi, Executive Secretary – GWPSA.

Since 2012, IUCN has been working together with other partners and has been supporting the governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and their water management agencies in the river basins and this support continues until 2025.

“IUCN feels honoured to be here especially at this point, as we have been part of the journey in supporting water cooperation in BuPuSa”, said Mauricio Xerinda, Country Representative – Mozambique International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)”. “We pledge continuation of our support to the commission beyond the tenure of the programming in the basins.

The launch of the Commission coincides with the launch of the Commission’s website which will be used to communicate developments within the 3 basins and progress on the implementation of any projects within the basins.

The BUPUSA Tri-Basin consists of the following shared river basins: the Buzi River Basin; the Pungwe River Basin, and the Save River Basin. The Buzi River originates in the Eastern Highlands on the border of Mozambique and Zimbabwe and flows eastward through the Manica and Sofala provinces of Mozambique. The Pungwe River originates in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe and flows in a general easterly direction through Mozambique into the Indian Ocean. The Save River runs from Zimbabwe and discharges into the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende