In Southern Africa, joint management of international waters is necessary for regional development and stability. The 1997 UN international convention on “watercourses for Non-navigational uses” and the 2000 revised SADC (South African Development Community) “Protocol on Shared Watercourses” form part of the platform towards minimising tension over utilisation of water resources in the region. Mozambique shares nine of 15 international rivers in SADC, hence its continued efforts towards reaching agreements with the riparian countries. However, effective implementation of these agreements remains a challenge.
This study focuses on the implementation of future agreements in Umbeluzi River which has only two co-riparian sovereign states – Mozambique and Swaziland. In this case, it was found that several factors affect the effective implementation of the desired equitable sharing principle. The most prominent are hydrological data uncertainty, lack of adequate modelling tools and insufficient institutional capacity. Factors like large climatic variability in the region further worsen the situation. The overall implementation of agreements is also dependent on stakeholders' willingness to cooperate, which in turn is linked to their sense of fairness on decisions imposed by officials. However, correct regulation and enforcement can narrow the gap between technical ingenuity and the actual system behaviour.