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UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft (2015)

Assessing transboundary data sharing for improving water resources management : case study : Zambezi River Basin, Southern Africa

Gochayi, L.

Titre : Assessing transboundary data sharing for improving water resources management : case study : Zambezi River Basin, Southern Africa

Auteur : Gochayi, L.

Etablissement de soutenance : UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2015

Data and information sharing is important for transboundary water resource management. It improves cooperation and management of the water resource of shared watercourses. Information exchange can open opportunities for water development and reduce natural disasters such as floods. Considerable efforts have been made in the Zambezi river basin to improve water resource management. Institutions and agreements were set up to improve flood monitoring and other water aspects by sharing hydro-meteorological data, but the expected data sharing practice has not fully materialised. This research was seeking to investigate the data and information sharing practices in the Zambezi river basin. Following this objective a qualitative approach was applied to investigate the legal, technical and institutional arrangements in the basin in regard to data sharing. A desk study and interviews were conducted particularly targeting the current data sharing practices in the case study. The desk study involved the review of reports, papers, presentations, websites and including the comparison with other transboundary river basins (Mekong and Murray-Darling basins) on data sharing. One to one interview sessions were conducted with key organizations and individuals that participated or are participating in the past and ongoing data sharing efforts in the lower Zambezi (Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique). The analysis was done based on comparing interviewee’s perceptions, reviewing the past studies in the basin and the literature. The study discovered the following findings. The Zambezi river basin is the largest basin in SADC region in Southern Africa, and it is ranked fourth in Africa. The basin is shared by eight riparian states ; Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. The basin water resource is mainly managed by water authorities and dam operators, of which much influence comes from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique because of the large basin share they occupy on the main river. The water authorities are Department of Water Affairs (DWAs) in Zambia, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) and ARA-Zambeze in Mozambique, and the dam operators are Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), Zambia Electricity Supply Company (ZESCO), Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Hydroelectric of Cahora Bassa (HCB) in Mozambique. The study discovered that the necessary agreements (with defined procedures) to facilitate data sharing are in place in the basin. These legal arrangements vary from local to international, but the existing data exchange practices are more referenced to the locally signed, which are Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and the Joint Operation Technical Committee (JOTC) agreement signed between ARA-Zambezi, HCB, ZRA, ZESCO, ZINWA and ZPC. These institutions are now called Zambezi water managers and dam operators (ZAMDO) and are the institutions currently participating in data sharing. These local and international agreements are not binding but are regarded as only formalising the process, but the basin is also characterised by institutions with high willingness to cooperate for better management of the basin water resource. On the technical aspects, the basin has a relatively good monitoring network and data collection coverage across the basin, of which some of the stations are in good state and others are not. The basin has a total of 40 main flow (quantity data) stations, 28 are collecting data and 12 are not, of which all those 12 stations are upstream. The stations condition varies with each individual water institution ; dam operators (ZRA, ZESCO and HCB) are more stable while water authorities (ZINWA, DWAs and ARA-Zambezi) are struggling to keep the monitoring network in good shape due to challenges of poor funding, lack of stations maintenance, closure of stations etc. This has compromised the data quality and sustainability of the monitoring stations. Data collection has been worsened as of result of SADC HYCOS data transmission server failure (no more real time data) in South Africa and disconnection of ZRA (which operate bulk of the basin main flow stations) from WMO satellite data transmission system. Currently there is no real time data from the main stations and the institutions are relying on data that is send via mobile phones and HF radios by the gauge readers. ii The current data and information sharing practices go through emails and mobile calls and have failed to fully satisfy the required data and information flow among the participating institutions. ZESCO, ZINWA and ZRA are quite satisfied, but HCB and ARA-Zambeze are not. Hydro-meteorological data should be shared daily in wet season and weekly in dry season. The current data sharing practices are characterised by delays, sometimes data is sent and sometimes is not. This is because some of upstream key stations have no data and the responsible institutions are not taking action to rectify the problem. The use of emails and mobile calls practices were adopted because they were the only best available options. On the data management, all the participating entities (ZAMDO) are migrating from individual to a common database called HYDSTRA, but it is currently being adopted at organization level. Through HYDTSRA it is expected to have a standardised and improved data management for the hydrometeorological data and to facilitate data exchange in the near future through a web-based system. But the database is sophisticated, costly and demand intensive training. At basin level ZAMCOM is developing ZAMWIS, a web-based system to be use for data management and as a tool to facilitate data exchange. This is following the rejection of the formerly developed ZAMWIS of 2008. The system was set up and no further action was taken, because ZAMCOM was not yet fully established. On the institutions, the participating entities have different capacities in terms of carrying the basin water management roles. Currently the participating institutions are collecting data mainly to satisfy primary objectives (to meet individual entities data need) rather than for transboundary data sharing. The upstream entities are data independent while downstream entities are data dependent. Thus, making the upstream institutions become more influential and important than the downstream institutions on the current data exchange practice arrangements. However the basin is optimistic for the data exchange improvement, particularly with the expected coming in of the river basin organizations : ZAMCOM through its ZAMWIS web-based system and ZAMDO Secretariat (among ZAMDO members) through its HYDSTRA, to facilitate the basin water management functions. The ZAMWIS is currently not certain especially with the failure of former ZAMWIS development in 2008. Among the ZAMDO members, there is a concern over benefit sharing (data collection cost). Currently all the costs related to data exchange are met at individual organizations ; an arrangement that is not satisfying the upstream institutions. The upstream entities mentioned the need of the data sharing beneficiaries to contribute towards data collection, not as full cost recovery but as an appreciation. At the entire basin level, benefit sharing is currently not a challenge because all the riparian states are annually contributing towards ZAMCOM budget, relatively with the extent of benefit. The Zambezi river basin data and information sharing (in terms of legal, technical and institutional arrangements) was compared with the Mekong and Murray-Darling river basins. Just like the Mekong and the Murray-Darling, the Zambezi basin has the necessary legal agreements in place for data exchange. A different arrangement was found on the technical and institutional. In the case of the Mekong and the Murray-Darling, data management and sharing is facilitated by a transboundary joint body, while in the Zambezi basin all the functions are done by individual water institutions. Besides that the monitoring and data collection set up is similar among all the three river basins. In conclusion, it is currently important for the Zambezi river basin to revitalize the flow monitoring network to ensure data availability. This can be done by prioritising the key stations across the basin. For the important stations where responsible institutions are failing to maintain, interested organizations can takeover or contribute towards their upkeep. Therefore it is important for the Zambezi basin to continue with the current local effort of establishing a ZAMDO Secretariat to facilitate data sharing among ZAMDO members, and to make arrangement towards contribution on data collection costs (to address benefit sharing issue). Further, it is also important for ZAMDO to consider cooperation with ZAMCOM since they all have similar interest of improving water management in the Zambezi basin.

Sujets  : water management ; data assessment ; data collection ; river basins ; water resources management ; Zambezi River ; case studies ; Southern Africa


Page publiée le 3 janvier 2017, mise à jour le 14 octobre 2018