Participants drawn mostly from government departments of Malawi and Mozambique converged at the Lotus Serendib Hotel in Blantyre for a two-day workshop hosted by the Southern African Development Community – Groundwater Management Institute SADC GMI and IWMI with the aim of presenting the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) of the Shire River Aquifer System, March 7-8, 2019. Participating from IWMI were Anita Lazurko, Girma Ebrahim, Jonathan Lautze and Patience Mukuyu.
Day one consisted of systematic presentations of the TDA sections which comprised detailed hydrogeological characterisation of the Shire shared aquifer system, water uses, water quality, institutional arrangements, land and water tenure as well as key messages drawn from these analyses. This exercise initiated robust discussion among the participants. Feedback on the various sections was noted by the IWMI project team, which will result in an updated TDA by the end of March. On the second day, joint actions of the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) were developed by the two countries, in a series of group discussions. These actions flowed out of a joint vision for the Basin (Enhanced cooperation in the development, management and utilisation of both surface water and groundwater in the Shire River Basin, conducted in a sustainable and integrated manner for improved livelihoods and socio-economic prosperity). Joint actions were developed under four main objectives i) to reduce the adverse impacts of climate variability and change (i.e. floods and droughts) through joint conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater ii) to improve the quality and quantity of data for improved conjunctive water management decision making by instituting a joint monitoring system for data collection, sharing and standardization iii) to strengthen national and transboundary institutional coordination to improve management for sustainable development of the basin and its shared aquifers iv) to address the causes of catchment degradation (e.g., overexploitation, destruction of natural vegetation) in order to improve water quality challenges, stream flow and groundwater retention, including the use of natural infrastructure.
A closing workshop to mark the official end of the Shire ConWat Project, will take place in Tete, Mozambique on 16-17 April 2019. However, engagement with the two countries will continue beyond April to ensure that the Shire Basin SAP is put into action. The dates of 7-8 March became especially poignant as southern Malawi and central Mozambique were subjected to the wave of Cyclone Idai across the two countries, bringing heavy rains and flooding to most parts of the Shire Basin. As the two countries come to grips with the destruction left behind by Cyclone Idai, our thoughts are with our Malawi and Mozambican colleagues during this time.