EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER MANAGEMENT 27 - 30 January 1998 Harare, Zimbabwe STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN ZIMBABWE by S. Mtetwa Paper No. 15 Prepared for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations ----- STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN ZIMBABWE by S. Mtetwa Chairman, Zimbabwe Coordinating Committe BACKGROUND Zimbabwe is situated in Southern Africa, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The total land areas is about 390245 km2. The population census of 1992 indicated that there was about 10.4 million people and a growth rate of about 3.1%. The average rainfall is about 270 billion cubic metres of which 20 billion cubic metres is convertible to run off. About 12 billion cubic metres has already been allocated. Ground water is estimated to be 2 billion cubic metres. The three main sub-sectors of water use in Zimbabwe are Agriculture (80%), Urban, Industrial and Mining (UIM) (15%) and Rural/Primary use (5%). It has also now been generally recognised by the Government that the environment is also a legitimate user of water. Development and management of water is based on the first come first served principle coupled with the riparian doctrine. Government has been in the past the major development agent and private sector the main managers at local level but recently private sector has proved that it can also develop the resource quite extensively. There is now a great potential to develop large dams in the private sector. Of the large dams developed so far the private sector owns about 40% and government 54%. INTRODUCTION The provision of water is core to the development of the country■s economy. Every government recognises this and Zimbabwe is not an exception. Population growth and growth of urban centres have resulted in demand for more fresh water, but the incidents of drought have made us to realise that water is finite although its renewable. The central focus of planning these days has been on the finite nature of water resources. As part of the on-going reforms in the water sector in Zimbabwe, new strategic approaches are being introduced in fresh water resources management as part of formulating the country■s Water Resources Management Strategy with an overall objective of achieving sustainable, equitable and economically feasible use of Zimbabwe■s water resources. The integrated, also called holistic approach to fresh water resources management has been accepted as a guiding principle. Integrated fresh water resources management implies integration in terms of : - the different physical aspects of the water resources; - its spatial variation; - the competing demands of water users; - the institutional and legal framework; - the complete set of national objectives and constraints. To those of you who are involved in fresh water resources management, you will agree with me when I say that water resources management is a complex activity. It comprises the full range of activities in the development of water resources from demand analysis through planning, design and construction to operation and monitoring. These activities are highly multi-disciplinary involving engineers, hydrologists, hydrogeologists, environmentalists, ecologists, lawyers, agriculturists, socio-economists, politicians and representatives of interested parties, pressure groups and water users. The water sector is therefore characterised by lots of players as can be seen from above. Main institution fall into government, private and municipalities government has a number of institution responsible for management. Ministry of local government and National Housing looks after municipalities. Ministry of Agriculture looks after agricultural use and Ministry of Rural Resources and Water Development looks after overall planning and management of the resource. There is also ministry of Health that looks after the quality of portable water. PROBLEMS IN FRESH WATER MANAGEMENT Problems in fresh water management are as diverse as there are diverse uses of the resource. The most common types of water use are : - irrigation; - domestic; - industrial; - commercial; - waste and waste water disposal; - recreation; - hydropower; - fisheries; - wildlife and nature preservation. Problems can be divided into legal, institutional, financial environmental, social, demographic and so on. Most of these are interrelated producing a cocktail of problems. For us in Zimbabwe, we have come to realise that there are three principal forces that conspire to create water scarcity and its potential to incite conflict or dispute. These are : - the depletion or degradation of the resource, which shrinks the resource pie. - Population growth which forces the pie to be divided into smaller slices. Since 1931, the population of Zimbabwe has been doubling almost every 20 years. - Unequal distribution or access, which means that some get larger slices than others or in some cases others get nothing at all. This issue has been exacerbated in the past by the concept of priority of application date as a basis for water allocation which seriously prejudiced new stakeholders. As a result, a situation had arisen where some water right holders had large amounts of water when their neighbours had virtually nothing. Although all the three factors often play a part in inciting competition and conflict, it appears that unequal distribution or access often has the most important role. In some cases, dams and other development projects intended to improve conditions for agriculture or the economy can end up fuelling tensions if newly created access to the scarce resources worsens existing inequalities, further marginalizes the poor or creates opportunities for the rich to capture the resource. Other problems in fresh water management in Zimbabwe include : - the introduction of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme resulted in less government financial support for infrastructural development. - Reduced capacity in the Ministry responsible for overall fresh water management in the way of human resources and equipment. - The recurrence of drought in the last decade and this decade has resulted in low run off causing water shortages and more conflicts between users and user groups - The developed resource in government dams has been characterised by huge subsidies resulting in inefficient water usage and wastage - uncontrolled ground water development coupled by drought have affected river refines and ground water mining in some areas. These problem plus others not mentioned coupled with the aspirations of the people have brought about the new strategic thinking to fresh water resources management. ASPIRATION OF THE PEOPLE The Zimbabwean public is beginning to open up with regards to water management. The droughts experienced over the years have contributed immensely to the realisation that water contributes a lot to both social and economic development. The following are aspirations that people have about fresh water management and are derived from consultative workshops that have been held country wide. - equitable distribution of water both local and international - stakeholder participation in both planning and management of water - provision of adequate financing for development and management of water - maintenance of good water quality standards of all fresh water, capable of delivering services. - efficient organisations decentralised to the lowest achievable level. - introduction of cost recovery principles but making sure water is affordable. - improved access to fresh water for drinking and production. - introduction of efficient water utilisation methods and reduction of losses. In short the aspirations of the people is that water should be made available at a reasonable price and should be used and managed efficiently. PRIORITY ACTIONS As conflicts over water worsen, many people wonder where we will get water for the future. Expanding the water supply to one user now means taking it away from another. Urban centres scream for more water while commercial farmers cry "Not our Water!". The key challenges now therefore in fresh water management are to establish priorities and policies for allocating water among competing uses and users, to encourage more efficient and productive use of water to protect the resources from pollution, to come up with principles for sharing international waters, to involve stakeholders in the planning and management of the resource and to reshape institutions and the legal environment to better suit the new era of water constraints. With the main objective "of enhancing the social and economic well being of the Zimbabwean population through improved fresh water management", the strategic approaches for Zimbabwe that are required to meet the above challenges are : 1. Water Resources Management Strategy Programme Water resources management strategy aims at coming out with strategies for managing our water resources. Specific areas being looked at are ; - efficient water utilisation through demand management - an analysis and recommendation of a water allocation system - an analysis and recommendation of water investment criterion - capacity enhancement through a capacity building of Department of Water Development staff - establishment of catchment planning principle and methodologies - establishment of pricing mechanisms and pricing policies. This project will produce among other things guidelines to most of the issues outlined above. 2. Demand Management So what is demand management? This is the development and implementation of strategies to influence water demand for the efficient and sustainable use of our scarce water resources. It aims to: - safeguard the rights of access to water for future generations; - limit water demands; - ensure equitable distribution; - protect the environment; - maximise the socio-economic output of a unit volume of water - increase the efficiency of water use. The character of demand management is multi-disciplinary. One cannot address demand management purely from a technical angle. Although it is possible to introduce water saving by technical measures, such as drip irrigation, leakage control, canal lining, etc., such technical measures always have financial and administrative implications which introduce economic, legal, institutional and eventually political aspects. In managing the demand, decisions should be taken on where, in which sector and how water demands can be reduced. For this to be achieved effectively, it is essential to understand the major factors which influence demand. Implicitly, there will be conflicts between competing users and trade offs will have to be made between the benefits obtained by allocating the water to different users in the context of the national economy. Public awareness campaigns and promotion are important activities in demand management that should be directed to both the water users and to the politicians. Water users should understand the importance and benefits of water conservation and should know in which way they can contribute to water conservation. 3. Integrating Fresh Water Management and Land Use The manner in which land is managed in the facets of land units of a catchment affects hydrological behaviour. Thus, the percentage of vegetation cover, land use and agronomic practices in a catchment will affect infiltration rates, and consequently, groundwater recharge, sheet erosion, surface runoff and stream discharge. Agronomic practices such as date of planting, the type of crop, tillage system (from zero tillage to deep plough), tied ridges, plough direction and crop rotations are some of the land use systems which are used to manage infield water resources. However, not all Zimbabwean farms are large enough to allow for the practice of such land use systems as described above to control soil, water and nutrient loss which leads to water pollution. The land tenure system therefore influences the manner in which water is managed in this country. The communal areas show signs of overutilization and carrying three times their potential carrying capacity of livestock and humans resulting in the least sustainable water resources management systems. Comparison between the large scale commercial farming sector and the communal areas show that the relationship between the environment and the satisfaction of basic human needs reflect a very low degree of needs satisfaction in the communal areas due to low agricultural productivity compared to those in the large scale commercial farming sector. Thus people in the communal areas tend to manage their land resource in a manner detrimental to the whole resource base. In extreme cases, unsustainable land use systems with negative consequences on hydrology such as gold panning and deforestation for commercial purposes are practiced to meet the needs satisfaction of the communal people. Currently, there is a lack of an inter-disciplinary and integrated land use planning system. The planning unit is the village with land administration at District level. There is thus need to promote the new integrated water and land resources management approach. 4. Environmental Protection Environmental quality depends to a large extent, on the water quantity and water quality. Any impact on the water quality or quantity has a direct impact on the environment. Water pollution from industrial, agricultural and domestic effluents is one of the serious environmental problems that can quickly turn into a national disaster if it is not arrested. The ecological disaster at Lake Chivero where large volumes of aquatic life, particularly fish were lost due to water pollution, is an example of how far water pollution can affect the environment. Due to the value of water for both social and economic benefits, a number of infrastructure development projects are undertaken either to capture the water or to distribute it. Construction of water facilities is one way by which man brings about large-scale modification of natural conditions. These activities sometime include negative effects that upset the naturally formed equilibrium and the balance of natural components. The construction of water facilities in most cases take up large areas and cause essential changes to the relief of an area. Some of the negative impacts of water development projects like artificial water bodies are the inundation of land, loss of habitats of ecological communities, loss of plants, displacement of people which might result in social stress as well as increases in water-borne diseases like bilharzia. Downstream impact include reduced water flow for downstream users as well as for the aquatic life. It is important therefore, for the purpose of environmental protection and sustainability to determine, especially at the design stage of any development activity how the given ecosystem may respond to the change that will be set in train by the proposed project. It is important to stress that water management strategies which do not take the environment into consideration are not sustainable. 5. Management of Water Resources at the Catchment Level In determining what geographical entity is most suitable for regional water resource management, it is important to recognize that water quality problems are inseparable from water quantity and land management problems. It is therefore necessary to define a geographic unit which can be viewed as a system so that all factors including water utilization, water quality and land resources can be integrated appropriately. This Unit is the river catchment. All water-related activities in a region are linked by the movement of water through the catchment and interdependencies between the various activities can only be defined by examining the catchment as a complete system. 6. Stakeholder Participation in Water Resources Management A positive thing that has come out of conflicts and disputes in water allocation and management is a recognition that stakeholder participation has a key role in successful water resource management as it enables interest groups to discuss new ideas and to give important feedback relating to specific needs and attitudes. On the degree of participation, experience to date in our two Pilot Catchment Projects ( Mazowe and Mupfure ) has shown that the nature of the particular issue in water management can deeply influence the efficacy of increased stakeholder participation. Certain issues in water resources management are routine - no major conflicts of interests are involved, responsibility for action is well defined and shifts in social values are unlikely to influence the type of action chosen. In these instances, the locus of responsibility is known, the decision threatens no established interest, and consultation with the stakeholders is normally unnecessary. Problems that might be described as strategic including those where several competing interests are involved and where the outcome of the decision may ultimately affect the lives of specific groups or individuals require direct stakeholder input. A few things however, are now clear. One is that if stakeholder participation programmes are to enjoy any measures of success, they must have credibility and transparency. They must not be a facade, giving the impression that the public■s views are being sought and taken into account but in reality not considered at all. Nor must information programmes be titled participation or involvement programmes. Only where there is a two-way flow of communications is this a valid description. 7. Shared International Water Course Systems The Helsinki Rules on the Uses of Water of International Rivers of 1967 are utilized as guidelines in international water resources treaties even though they are not very explicit. The fundamental point is that co-basin States must accept the principle of equitable and sustainable use of water resources as a key guiding element. Upstream and downstream States must acknowledge each other's rights to use water resources for national development, as well as each nation■s responsibility to the prevent the pollution and degradation of water. One of the major constraints to an efficient exploitation of international shared waters is the lack of accurate knowledge with respect to the state of the water resources within the basin and the social expectation with respect to the strategic behaviour of the Governments of the basin States. The Basin States■ sincerity in revealing true preferences, commitment to an agreement and disclosing all private information are questioned. The Basin State Governments must develop a trust in each other and allow for information acquisition and sharing. It will be necessary that a co-ordinated approach by all Basin States should lead to the adoption of an integrated utilisation and management strategy. This should be implemented, controlled and managed by a joint commission or authority of some kind. Such a strategy must however, be conceived by the Basin States themselves and must be recorded in an international agreement to which each of the Basins States concerned is party. 8. Changes to the Water Act At present the main legislation in the Water Sector in Zimbabwe is the Water Act No. 41 of 1976 which is administered by the Department of Water Development on behalf of the Ministry of Rural Resources and Water Development. The Act generally provides a sound basis for managing the water resources of Zimbabwe but it contains some shortcomings that had to be addressed to take account of the socio-political changes that have occurred since it was passed into legislation and also of the growing competition for the available water which exists not only between but also within sectors. Thus the main objectives to be achieved by amending the Water Act of 1976 are to : - improve equal access to water for all Zimbabweans; - improve the management of water resources, surface and groundwater alike; - strengthen environmental protection and - simplify the Act and improve its administration. 9. Institutional Reforms The formation of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority is a result of the amalgamation and rationalization of the roles and functions of the Regional Water Authority and the Department of Water Development. The authority is necessary because at present there is no separation of Government statutory and regulatory functions for the provision of water management services. Focus has been on constructing more dams, drilling more boreholes, while management and planning of water resources has not been given much attention. The Authority■s role is therefore to ensure better use and equity in accessibility of water by all Zimbabweans. This is to be done through the decentralized Catchment Authorities which must fully represent all water users in a particular catchment. The authority is to operate on commercial lines promoting the polluter pays, the user pays and full cost recovery principles. 10. Capacity Building For freshwater resources management to be sustainable there is need to build local capacity both in terms of technical and managerial capabilities. On the technical side, resources should be devoted to research and development activities such as establishing the national water information centre, preparation and implementation of regional water management plans and installation/operation of hydrological monitoring networks. Human resources development should be adopted through an extensive training plan eg. the introduction of an Msc programme in water resources Engineering and Management, and the WRMS project. CONCLUSIONS From the foregoing, it is clear that the strategic approaches presented are dynamic requiring adjustment now and again. If adopted however, the long term vision of freshwater management that emerges is one that will provide greater equity and access to water, improved efficiency of water use and environmental protection. Only then can intergenerational transfer of the freshwater resources be guaranteed. _____
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Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30