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Water Governance in the Orange-Senqu River Basin:

ORASECOM Mandate, Structure and Functions



The Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) promotes equitable and sustainable development of the resources of the Orange-Senqu River, and provides a forum for consultation and coordination between the riparian states to support integrated water resources management (IWRM) and development in the basin.

The goals of ORASECOM (Hollingworth 2007) are to:

  • Develop a comprehensive perspective of the basin
  • Study the present and planned future uses of the river system
  • Determine the requirements for flow monitoring and flood management

ORASECOM is expected to strengthen regional solidarity and enhance socio-economic cooperation within the region.


The executive functions of ORASECOM remain with the relevant water authorities of the four member states. The following functions are assigned to ORASECOM (Hollingworth 2007):

  • Secretariat function related to administration, financial control and technical back-stopping to facilitate its functions
  • Management function to provide support for joint management of projects in the basin that are under the auspices of the Commission
  • Coordination function to harmonise development activities in the basin and facilitate the participation of all relevant stakeholders in activities of ORASECOM
  • Communication function to maintain a comprehensive database on the basin, in order to enable transparent dialogue between the Commission, the scientific community, NGOs and other stakeholders
  • Screening function to ensure the execution of decisions made by the Commission, and the assessment of proposals for new activities submitted by various outside interests

Organisational Structure

ORASECOM's organisational structure consists of the Council, Secretariat and Task Teams. The Commission works primarily through a sub-committee system of legal and technical Task Teams, the members of which are technical experts or advisors nominated by each delegation.

ORASECOM organisational structure.
Source:ORASECOM 2007
( click to enlarge )

The Council

The highest body of ORASECOM is the Council, which is supported by a Secretariat and a series of Task Teams who manage projects. The Council serves as technical advisor to the Member countries on matters related to development, utilisation and conservation of the water resources of the basin.

The Council consists of delegations from each of the four member countries. The delegations are comprised of three permanent members from the respective government agencies responsible for water resources management.

The respective delegations from the four member states are as follows:

  • Botswana: Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources
  • Lesotho: Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Namibia: Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development
  • South Africa: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry

The Secretariat

In August 2006, the Republic of South Africa signed an agreement to host the ORASECOM Secretariat in Pretoria, South Africa.

Functions of the Secretariat include:

  • Coordinate and implement ORASECOM activities and decisions
  • Serve as a repository of information related to the Orange-Senqu River basin
  • Act as a focal point for ORASECOM with all external parties
  • Perform ORASECOM administrative functions
  • Conduct communication and promotion for ORASECOM
  • Programme and project development and management

Technical Task Teams

Task teams are established by Council, and comprise of representatives from member states. The task teams undertake communication, financial, legal and technical functions delegated to them the commission.


Transparent dialogue is an important part of the Commission's functions.
Source:Reed 2009
( click to enlarge )



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