ZIMBABWE and Mozambique have moved to set up a commission to manage several basins that straddle the two countries to counteract the effects of floods, cyclones and drought.

The Buzi, Pungwe and Save (Bupusa) Watercourse Commission came out of the signing of the Save Water Sharing Agreement, the Bupusa Hosting Agreement and the Bupusa Establishment Agreement by the two countries this week.

According to a statement released by the Global Water Partnership (GWP-SA) this week, the Bupusa Watercourse Commission will have oversight on the planning, development and management of the basins under its stewardship.

“The Bupusa secretariat will be hosted by Mozambique for the coming 15 years and Zimbabwe thereafter, as provided for by the Bupusa Hosting Agreement,” GWP-SA said in the statement.

Cooperation in the Pungwe, Save and Buzi river basins is driven by water resources, joint monitoring, planning, development and management of shared water resources.

This follows the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) revised protocol on shared watercourses, which was signed in 2000.

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The protocol called for the establishment of river basin institutions including commissions.

The Bupusa basins are exclusively shared by the two countries and drain into the Indian Ocean.

These three basins are located along the Beira corridor, an important economic corridor that links the Beira harbour to the hinterland.

The river basins are experiencing an increase in the frequency of extreme hydro-metrological events —  floods and droughts.

The number of droughts in the two countries keeps increasing, after being experienced in 1982, 1986, 1990-1992, 1995, 2010-2011, 2015-2020 and 2023.

The areas have also been affected by cyclone.

The GWP-SA also noted that human activities in the basins were on the rise, causing damage to the environment as well as a deterioration in water quality.

“Small-scale gold miners in the basins have been identified as major polluters impacting surface water, groundwater, and wetlands adjacent to the rivers,” GWP — SA said.

“Added to this are inappropriate catchment management activities in various parts of the basins, such as shifting and slope cultivation, charcoal burning, and gold panning, which have led to land degradation including increased sediment loads and deteriorating water quality.

“The poor water quality in the basins forces women and girls to travel long distances in search of clean water for domestic and other uses,” it added.

Mozambique's minister of Public Works And Water Resources, Carlos Mesquita, said the bilateral tri-basin commission would strengthen the social and economic ties that already exist between the two countries.

“Further to enhancing cooperation between the two countries, the Bupusa Commission will also create a platform for dialogue between the two countries on the management of the three basins,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s Agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka said the deal “will ensure that water is managed in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner to promote peace and provide prosperity for the stakeholders in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.”