SADC's 2003 Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses stresses a basin-wide approach to managing trans-boundary waters, instead of a stress on territorial sovereignty. It spells out the objectives of sound management as including co-ordinated management, sustainable use, and environmental protection.
The river basin organisations that are holding their fifth meeting in Harare are charged with promoting equitable use, starting strategies for the event of shared rivers and lakes, and developing a policy for monitoring shared watercourses.
Armed conflict over water has long been predicted; most recently the united states workplace of the Director of National Intelligence said such wars would get away among successive decade. however although several elements of the region are already facing water stress, SADC expects its numerous trans-boundary watercourses to be the premise of nearer co-operation instead of conflict.
"They say successive wars are fought over water, however with these agreements, we have a tendency to are ensuring that water will instead be an instrument of peace," Dr Kenneth Msibi said in Harare.
Msibi, a water policy and strategy knowledgeable at the SADC Secretariat, said the water sector is important in helping build regional integration.
"Co-operation will result in further integration and water is an engine for development and this means a tool for poverty reduction. this means protocols for shared water are important for regional integration."
Msibi believes managing shared river basins in line with integrated water resource management principles - recognising that water management encompasses each social and economic goals, and may involve policy-makers, managers and users - contribute to SADC's 3 key objectives: Regional integration, peace and stability, and poverty reduction.
Sipho Nkambule, the chief government officer of the Komati Basin Authority, that coordinates management of a river system that extends across SA, Swaziland and Mozambique, said he would use the Harare meeting as an opportunity to check notes on how different river basin authorities were monitoring implementation.
He said the most challenge was explaining management of a shared river to people living along its banks.
"People are struggling to grasp why they should share the resource with others," Nkambule said.
"Those upstream don't seem to be happy to be told to allow water to pass, after they want to entice it for his or her own desires." Sergio Sitoe, the Interim government Secretary of Limcom, the Limpopo Watercourse Commission, said he hoped the new monitoring tool would emphasise communication among member states sharing a river basin.
"Member states should notify each other on development comes along the basin, as notification is crucial and failure to try and do thus could produce problems downstream and would possibly impact negatively on different members," he said.
As an example, Sitoe mentioned a recent complaint in which the Botswana government felt their South African counterparts should have officially informed them before beginning a development in the river basin.
The Limcom head said that while regional agreements allowed for disputes to be taken to the SADC Tribunal, there were variety of conflicts in the region that were being mentioned behind closed doors.
"It's sensible that we have a tendency to try to forestall these conflicts, and we are building trust so everything runs smoothly," Sitoe said.
Officials from across the region are agreed that implementation of the 2003 Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses will promote peace and stability in the region.
Msibi said the river basin organisation meeting - that welcomed its latest full member, the Zambezi Watercourse Commission, whose founding agreement was ratified in September last year - was meant to produce tips and reach a consensus on what indicators would be used and the way these may well be applied in each of the region's trans-boundary river systems.
"We are taking input from all the stakeholders, we are going to discuss the tool and indicators to monitor progress," Msibi said.
"This agreement can unlock potential for member states, and it creates an opportunity for member states to figure together to beat economies of scale," he said.