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ZAMCOM History

The ZAMCOM story is a long one. It took more than two decades of consultations for the ZAMCOM Agreement to be concluded. During those years, many developments took place. These included the following related activities:
  1. negotiations and signing, ratification and entering into force of the regional legal and institutional tool, the SADC Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses in 2003;
  2. establishment of a number of river basin organisations; and,
  3. formulation by SADC of the Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) for Integrated Water Resources Development and Management (IWRDM).

The requisite negotiations to establish ZAMCOM date back to the late 1980s. These were suspended in the early 1990s to allow for discussions on the establishment of the regional framework, SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems that was initially signed in 1995, and revised in 2000, came into force in 2003 upon ratification by the required two-thirds majority. This instrument was renamed the Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses.

The need for having an overarching legal and institutional framework for the region, the protocol, came about during the developmental discussions of the Zambezi River Basin when it was realized that the regional instrument would guide the establishment of various river basin organizations, including that of the Zambezi and serve as a modus operandi for the management of shared watercourses in Southern Africa.

Fresh negotiations related to the ZAMCOM Agreement resumed in 2002. During the two-year period, i.e. 2002-2004, four rounds of talks were held. These negotiations were complemented by specialized technical activities, including high level Ministerial consultations that took place in Ethiopia and Mozambique in September and November 2003, respectively.

Coordinated by the SADC Secretariat under the Zambezi Action Plan (ZACPLAN), negotiations for the establishment of the ZAMCOM were concluded in Windhoek, Namibia in March 2004. Thereafter, the agreement to establish ZAMCOM was signed three months later on 13th July 2004. The ZAMCOM Agreement came into force, seven years later, in June, 2011 after 6 of the eight Riparian States successfully ratified the Agreement and deposited the instruments of ratification at the SADC Secretariat.

ZAMCOM’s goal is to assist the Riparian States achieve regional cooperation and integration through sharing treasured benefits from the water resources of the Zambezi river basin. This is in recognition of the contribution that such cooperation could make towards the peace and prosperity of the basin and the Southern African region as a whole.

Associated key influencing factors behind the Agreement include the recognition and consciousness by the Riparian States of the following:

  • The scarcity and the value of water resources in the southern African region and the need to provide the people in the region with access to sufficient and safe water supplies;
  • The significance of the Zambezi Watercourse as a major water source in the region, as well as the need to conserve, protect and sustainably utilize its resources;
  • The commitment to the realization of the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization as well as the efficient management and sustainable development and management of the basin’s water resources;
  • The desire to extend and consolidate existing relations of good neighbourliness and cooperation amongst the Zambezi Riparian States on the basis of existing international water instruments.