Transboundary surface water management in Africa

Project Lead:
Waltina Scheumann

Project Team:

Melanie Muro (University of Stanfield)
Lars Wirkus (Bonn International Centre for Conversion)
Volker Böge (Bonn International Centre for Conversion)
Erik Mostert (University of Delft)
Malte Großmann (Technische Universität Berlin)
Axel Klaphake (Technische Universität Berlin)
Ralf Klingbeil (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources)

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Time frame:
2004 - 2005 / completed

Project description

Research Question:
The research project is designed to support those goals of German development cooperation in Africa that are concerned, among other things, with the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and the strengthening of peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms. The project has developed a set of practicable recommendations on promotion of transboundary cooperation along international rivers as well as of international river basin organisations.
The project has dealt with the following issues and components:

1. The present state of and experiences with transboundary water management in Africa
This component looks into the present state of international cooperation along selected transboundary African rivers and lakes, including e.g. the Limpopo, the Orange-Senqu, the Volta, the Nile, and Lake Chad. The project has identified existing and planned water projects and their conflict potential. The study documents the legal groundwork and the area of application of the agreements concerned, analyses the existing river basin organisations (organisational structures, mode of operation, powers, and responsibilities), the relationships between them and the member states, and the roles and influence of regional actors like e.g. SADC.

2. Promotion of regional river basin regimes
This component documents the present state of the international research on the success factors needed for transboundary river basin management and the development of effective river basin organisations. It presents and discusses typical forms of organisation and looks into the development stages and paths that river basin organisations are typically observed to pass though. One aspect of the expertise prepared looks into what sources are used to finance the budgets of established and more recent river basin organisations, how their cost structures are composed, and how the costs are distributed among the member parties. This component furthermore presents and discusses instruments used by development cooperation.

3. Cooperation along international rivers from the economic perspective: the concept of benefit-sharing
This component looks into whether, how, and under what conditions the principle of benefit-sharing can be implemented for typical projects. The key questions involved here are: What economic justification is advanced for benefit-sharing and what types of win situation can be distinguished. What role does the concept play in the logic of negotiations (above all for upper-course / lower-course constellations)? What actual forms of benefit-sharing can we identify and systematise? What influence do actor-related factors have on the chances that benefit-sharing will materialise? What role may be played by third-party countries and/or international organisations? What conclusions can be derived for development cooperation?

4. Preparation of a database on the mode of operation of river basin organisations
A database is set to be developed to support information-sharing among river basin organisations; among others, it will include and process the following data: treaty frameworks, treaty parties, area of application, organisational structure, mode of operation, budget, public participation, powers, tasks, and obligations of the member parties, programmes and work plans, progress reports of river basin organisations, reporting requirements and reports of treaty parties, dispute settlement arrangements. The data are supplemented by commentary texts.

5. Recommendations on the strategic orientation of development cooperation in transboundary water management in Africa
Based on the work referred to above, the summary expertise makes a number of detailed recommendations on the organisational links to and support for cooperation projects along transboundary water bodies.

Relevant publications:

Wirkus, Lars / Volker Böge (2005): Afrikas internationale Flüsse und Seen. Stand und Erfahrungen im grenzüberschreitenden Wassermangement in Afrika an ausgewählten Beispielen, Discussion Paper 7/2005

Scheumann, Waltina / Susanne Neubert (2005): Empfehlungen zur strategischen Orientierung der EZ im grenzüberschreitenden Gewässermanagement in Afrika, Discussion Paper 10/2005

Mostert, Erik (2005): How can international donors promote transboundary water management?, Discussion Paper 8/2005

Klaphake, Axel (2005): Kooperation an internationalen Flüssen aus ökonomischer Perspektive: das Konzept des Benefit Sharing, Discussion Paper 6/2005

Grossmann, Malte (2005): Kooperation an Afrikas internationalen Gewässern: die Bedeutung des Informationsaustauschs, Discussion Paper 9/2005

Current Publications

Germany’s EU Council Presidency faces a monumental task

Hackenesch, Christine / Niels Keijzer / Julian Bergmann
The Current Column of 01 July 2020