Protecting water as a scarce resource in Southern Africa

Project description

Title: Transboundary Water Management in the SADC region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union​​​​​​​
Country: SADC Member States​​​​​​​
Lead executing agency: SADC Secretariat​​​​​​​
Overall term: 2020 to 2024


Southern Africa suffers from water scarcity and uneven distribution of water resources. As around 70 per cent of water comes from transboundary rivers, water use in one country often negatively effects availability and quality in neighbouring countries. Sustaining water security in the region therefore requires the effective protection of ecosystems upstream of the river basins.

Inadequate use of sustainable land use methods, a growing population and insufficient access to alternative livelihoods leads to overgrazing and erosion. This has severe consequences for range-, crop- and wetlands.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States have agreed on the principles of shared and integrated water resource management, but effective implementation using ecosystem-based and climate-resilient approaches is lacking.


Transboundary water resources in the SADC region, especially in the Orange Senqu river basin, are being sustainably protected and utilised through integrated approaches for catchment management.


The project supports SADC in implementing harmonised policies, strategies, guidelines and instruments for transboundary cooperation in the water sector. It promotes policy frameworks, reinforces institutions and supports implementation in selected basins and Member States of SADC. Moreover, the project improves coordination in the RSAP implementation through dialogue among Member States.

The major thrust of the current project phase is a large national programme for Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) in Lesotho, which is co-financed with 27.6 million Euros from the European Union. Lesotho is the “water tower” of Southern Africa, and all water-related challenges and interventions have an immediate effect downstream in the Orange Senqu River Basin. Stakeholders in Lesotho will learn from their regional experience, thus enabling them to contribute to the regional agenda. The implementation harnesses existing capacity in the region and scales up ongoing initiatives.

Last update: May 2022

Additional information