Governments of Malawi and Mozambique have agreed to improve the social and economic development of their citizens by utilizing the vast water resources the two countries share.
Malawi’s Minister of Water and Sanitation, Abida Sidik Mia, and the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources, Carlos A. Fortes Mesquita, signed the agreement on behalf of their governments after a meeting for the Joint Water Commission at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Friday.
The two countries share many water resources, including Lake Malawi, Lake Niassa, Lake Chiuta, Lake Chilwa, Shire River and transboundary aquifers, among others.
The management of these shared watercourses resulted in the Agreement on the Establishment of the Joint Water Commission, which was isnged on 27 November 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.
Addressing journalists after signing the agreement, Mia expressed disappointment that despite having abundant shared water resources and the agreement at hand, the two countries continue facing challenges.
She cited acute water shortages and extreme effects of climate change, which are characterized by drought in some areas while others are suffering from floods and frequent cyclones.
“Besides, issues of water availability, delivery, accessibility and affordability by the people in our countries are also dire. The challenges have resulted in having crippling effects on our economies, which critically need our urgent attention if water security is to be realized to support economic growth and integration of the two countries and the entire SADC region,” said Mia.
The minister further observed that the impacts of climate change have exacerbated the water-scarce or water-stressed situation, which has resulted in upscaling the unequal distribution of water resources for socioeconomic development in time or space.
In his remarks, Mesquita said with the advent of climate change, population growth, industrialization, the massification of agriculture based on the contamination of groundwater, water begins to be a non-renewable and exhaustible resource, which calls for a change in behavior in the regarding the use of this precious liquid and also in the search for alternative and sustainable solutions for its provision.
He said although Mozambique presents a good situation of availability of water resources when using per capita average values as a reference, its availability in time and space is influenced by several factors, notably the climate it causes, recurrent floods and droughts.
“To aggravate this situation, the country is highly dependent on flows from upstream countries. These countries face low availability in terms of per capita water, exacerbated by greater socio-economic development which results in greater pressure on their water resources,” said Mesquita.
He said the agreement therefore signifies a commitment the two countries have towards consolidating efforts to develop their economies, create well-being for their populations and face the negative impacts of extreme weather events.
“With the signing of the Memorandum on the Rules and Procedures of the Joint Commission on Water between Mozambique and Malawi, we hope that we will have an instrument that can help improve the management and proper handling of matters relating to the sharing of data and information, as well as ensuring cooperation coordinated between the Parties, in order to ensure the planning, development, management and sustainable use of water resources,” said Mesquita.