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SADC experts call for investment in water infrastructure

Water experts from the Southern African Development community (SADC) are meeting in the Namibian capital Windhoek for a two-day workshop to share experiences and discuss opportunities for investment on transboundary cooperation within river basins in the region.The experts are meeting for the 8th SADC River Basin Organisations (RBOs) Meeting being held under the theme: “Securing Strategic Investments to Realise the Benefits of Transboundary Water Cooperation”.

The regional RBOs series of workshops are organised every two years with the aim for strengthening regional water integration and cooperation. 

There are 15 shared river basins in the SADC region, with only six are functional or in operational phase.

Speaking during the opening of the workshop, Namibia’s permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), Percy Misika called investment in water supply infrastructure to ensure industrialisation and economic development in the region.

“All SADC member states share one or more river basins with exemption of our oceanic member states. These are resources available to us to transform our economies to the level of industrialised and developed nations. It however requires financial commitments if we are top realise such dreams,” said Misika.

He said investing in extensive water supply infrastructure “is needed to ensure industrialisation and economic development.” 

The workshop is convened by the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) in partnership with the SADC Secretariat, the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa, and c as the host.

According to SADC, out of 280 million people in the region, only 60 percent have access to clean drinking water.

Phera Ramoeli from the SADC Water Division noted that the workshop is meant to build consensus on SADC’s strategic approach in institutional development, and strengthening of RBOs in the region.

“Despite being assessed, documented and understood, the benefits of transboundary water cooperation have not been communicated well in the region,” Ramoeli said. 

He said empirical evidence to support existing literature on the benefits derived from transboundary water cooperation is still lacking. 

“There is need, therefore, to take further steps of ensuring that the benefits are not only understood but are also realised within the region,” Ramoeli said.

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