07 Aug 2014 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 07 AUG (NAMPA) A one-day high level meeting to discuss and endorse the strategic plan and action plans of the Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission commenced here on Thursday.
The Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) is the institution responsible for the management of the resources of the Orange-Senqu River basin, a trans-boundary resource shared by Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa.
Speaking at the opening of the fourth meeting of the ministers involved in ORASECOM, Namibias Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa noted that the agreement, which was signed in the year 2000, has shortcomings and requires periodic or regular review and updating. Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho signed and ratified the agreement here on 03 November 2000.
Like any other legal documents, the 2000 agreement is not cast in stone, neither should it be static. It has shortcomings, and requires periodic or regular review and updating in order for it to adequately and successfully address dynamic emerging challenges and issues relevant to ORASECOM. I believe that it is more than reasonable to now, once again, urge the Councils legal task team to, as soon as possible, submit its final draft report on the matter to the Commissions Council for final consideration and possible approval by the ministers, ideally at their fifth ministerial meeting next year, he stated.
Mutorwa raised the concern that the 2000 agreement does not define the term commission. The ORASECOM Executive Secretary and its Secretariat also do not appear anywhere in the agreement.
The river system is a major water resource in the southern African Development Community (SADC) Region. Mutorwa said collaboration between the parties/countries to develop the river system as a water source of common interest could significantly contribute towards the mutual benefit, peace, security, welfare and prosperity of the people.
Ministers responsible for water in the four countries in the year 2005 took the decision to amend the agreement. However, nine years later, the councils legal task team should submit its final draft for consideration and approval by the ministers for the next meeting scheduled for 2015.
ORASECOM provides a forum for consultation and coordination between the states the river run through to promote integrated water resource management and development within the basin. The geography of the Orange-Senqu River basin is highly variable, from the mountainous terrain of the Kingdom of Lesotho, through the semi-arid and arid landscapes of South Africas Karoo and Richtersveld, to the deserts of southern Namibia.