Background: The Orange-Senqu River Basin originates in the highlands of Lesotho and runs for over 2300 km to its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean in Namibia/South Africa. The river system is one of the largest river basins in Africa with a total catchment area of about 1.0 million km2 and encompasses all of the Lesotho, a significant portion of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The basin is of major economic importance to South Africa contributing 26% to South Africa’s GDP. It also supplies through a trans-basin transfer scheme most of the Gauteng province, which generates 33.9% of the national GDP. In Lesotho, all economic activities are conducted within the basin as the entire country is part of the basin. The basin contributes to the GDP of Botswana and Namibia, where mining and agriculture are the main areas of water usage. The Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission (ORASECOM) is the river basin organisation established in 2000 by the Governments of the four riparian states for managing the water resources of the basin. Over the past decade ORASECOM, with the support of key development partners, has been assessing the water resources management conditions in the basin. This has led to the development of a consolidated Integrated Water Resources Management Plan adopted in February 2015 by the ORASECOM Member States.
The IWRM plan provides a strategic transboundary water resources management framework and action areas and serves as guiding and planning tool for achieving the long-terms development goals in the basin. The IWRM Plan identifies the lack of integrated transboundary water resources investment strategy as key challenge for achieving the sustainable development of the basin water resources.
Rationale: The Orange-Senqu River Basin poses complex water management challenges for safeguarding future water security. The central theme of ensuring water security under increased hydrological variability compounded by climate change impact remains the key water resources management problem. There are multiple problems related to deteriorating environmental conditions and lack of inclusive water resources development in some parts of the basin in order to support economic growth and alleviate poverty. The solutions to these problems are to be addressed through optimisation of the water resources development based on balanced economic, social and environmental considerations.
Objectives: The objectives of the project are to prepare an optimised water resources development investment strategy and Plan with the IWRM implementation plan for the Orange-Senqu River Basin and preparation of multipurpose project for implementation in the short term time frame. Climate resilience will be integrated in the planning and development of water infrastructure. Investment financing and resources mobilisation strategies will be developed in both cases. The project promotes capacity building and institutional development as part of the stakeholders’ consultation process.