Australia-SADC cooperation in transboundary water management
The Australian Government is providing $17.5 million for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Transboundary Water Management Program. The program aims to provide millions of people with safer drinking water, improve water supplies and help reduce conflict.
According to the Australian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, Mr Bob McMullan, who is visiting Maputo during the SADC Summit, the Australian assistance is a vital element of Australia’s growing engagement in the SADC region. Australian assistance to the transboundary water management program builds on assistance from the German and British governments.
“Australia has strong political, diplomatic and commercial links with all SADC countries and our partnerships have grown significantly in recent years. Our development cooperation with the various countries in the region for 2011-12 is over $100 million,” Mr McMullan said.
“Australia is also keen to do more with the SADC organisation itself in key areas of priority interest”.
“Our commitment to support SADC member states to effectively manage transboundary water resources will help save lives in areas where many communities lack access to basic safe water and appropriate sanitation. The program is expected to directly benefit up to five million people by 2015, and indirectly benefit millions more in the region’s river basins and local municipalities,” Mr McMullan said.
Access to water is one of southern Africa’s biggest problems with many communities currently experiencing high water stress. The SADC region has 15 major river basins, all of which are shared by two or more countries.
Mr McMullan also announced that a Memorandum of Understanding governing future cooperation between Australia and SADC was being finalised.
According to Mr McMullan, the MoU will provide a framework for cooperation in a range of areas identified as priorities by SADC, including good governance; peace and security; climate change adaptation and mitigation; sustainable development, agriculture and food security; and human resource development.
“We are particularly interested in seeing how our Australian Awards Scholarships program, which currently provides 1000 scholarships and professional development opportunities to African students every year, can be utilised by the SADC organisation,” Mr McMullan said.
Australian High Commission in South Africa