A lake with small trees in the water.

Protecting water as a scarce resource in southern Africa

Transboundary Water Management in the SADC region

A stony river surrounded by a green landscape.© GIZ/KfW Radike


Southern Africa is adversely affected by water shortages and an uneven distribution of water resources. As around 70 per cent of the water comes from transboundary rivers, one country’s water use often has a negative impact on availability and quality in neighbouring countries. Maintaining water security in the region requires effective protection of the ecosystems in the river basins.

Certain land use methods, a growing population and insufficient alternative sources of income are resulting in overgrazing and erosion, with serious consequences for pastures, cultivated areas and wetlands.


Transboundary water resources in the SADC region, particularly in the Orange-Senqu River basin, are protected and utilised in an environmentally friendly manner through integrated river basin management concepts.

A marshy riverbank in an open landscape with bushes.© GIZ/Guy


The project supports SADC in implementing coordinated policy measures, strategies, guidelines and instruments for improved cooperation on transboundary water resources.

The project:

  • Promotes political foundations
  • Supports institutions
  • Assists implementation in selected river basins and SADC member states
  • Promotes dialogue between member states on transboundary water resource management

The focus of the current project phase is a comprehensive national programme on integrated catchment management (ICM), with co-financing from the European Union worth EUR 27.6 million.

Lesotho is considered the ‘water tower’ of southern Africa. All of the country's water-related problems and measures have a direct impact downstream in the Orange-Senqu River basin. Actors in Lesotho are learning from experience gained in the region and can thus contribute to the regional agenda. During implementation, the skills available in the region are utilised and ongoing initiatives expanded.

Antelopes drinking at a small waterhole in an arid landscape.© GIZ/Guy

Last update: April 2024

Additional information