Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 45

educing by half the number
of people exposed to poverty,
malnutrition and lack of access
to clean drinking water forms part of
the Millennium Objectives. In 2002, the
Johannesburg summit added access to
sanitation and the Evian G8 undertook
to support NEPAD (New Partnership
for Africa’s Development), in which
water is a major preoccupation. Finally,
Africa has been recognised by the IPCC
as being a continent that is particularly
vulnerable in this respect. It is therefore
essential that every African government
should manage the impacts of climate
change on water resources. In addition,
the pollution of these resources is still a
major problem that deserves particular
attention. Our future depends on this,
especially as the abundance of natural
resources forms a very strong potential
for development and regional economic
The Congo River Basin features a vast
trans-frontier catchment with an area of
some 3 822 000 km
. This is the second
in the world as regards size and flow
after the Amazon, making the region
one of the major water resources in
the world even though precipitation has
decreased in the last three decades. The
region houses 60% of the biodiversity
of the whole of Africa. The protection of
natural resources in central Africa, and
especially water, is a major economic
fisheries, agriculture, potable water
etc. and contributes to mitigating
climate change via the conservation
and restoration of the second largest
forest in the world after Amazonia. The
ecosystems of central Africa form the
basis for socioeconomic activities that
are closely linked to the quality of these
environments (natives of the forest of
the ‘Central Basin’).
The main problem as regards the
improvement of water resources is
ensuring that development plans are
in line with national strategies: for the
reduction of poverty while improving
capacity to manage the everyday
challenges of climate variability; and
to provide a long-term response to the
impacts of climate change.
Promoting inland waterways
Establishing confidence and sharing
our knowledge and approach to the
catchment beyond frontiers is the
foundation for the implementation of
integrated water resource management
in zones that are highly vulnerable and
those with a risk of conflict. In 1999,
the Heads of State of Cameroon, the
Republic of the Congo, the Central
African Republic and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo set up the
International Commission of the Congo
- Oubangui - Sangha Basin (CICOS) with
a mandate for the ‘promotion of inland
waterways’. In 2007, the CICOS mission
was broadened to cover integrated water
management and a strategic action plan
was drawn up. The four CICOS member-
states account for 83% of the drainage
basin of the river Congo and Angola, an
observer at CICOS since 2007, has 8%.
The other countries with territory in the
drainage basin are Zambia and Tanzania
and, to a smaller extent, Burundi and
Rwanda. Gabon has also joined CICOS
as an effective member.
The hydroelectric potential of the Congo
basin with regard to the power supply for
central Africa and for the continent as a
whole needs no further demonstration.
Although it is an eminently profitable
source of energy, the potential is
very little exploited. Installed load is
currently only 4 667 MW. The potential
is estimated to be more than 150 000
MW with 100 000 MW in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo alone. The Inga
site has capacity of 44 000 MW but only
3% is installed. The proportion of the
population supplied with electricity is
small, especially in rural areas as far
as the four CICOS member-states are
concerned. At the regional scale of
central Africa, electrification reaches
13% and consumption per person is still
very low at 109 kWh per person.
Exploiting the potential depends
directly on the hydraulic infrastructure
that can be established in the Congo
basin in the light of hydrological data.
Knowledge of resources is the base of
all water management: you can only
manage what you know. Hydrological
The governance of transfrontier waters
DRC is a vast country with little more than 480 km of paved road. So many people prefer to take boats, although they are often overloaded, resulting in acci-
dents. Here at Maluku, about 80 miles from Kinshasa. Plans are being made for the rehabilitation and better navigability of the Congo River Basin.
© J. Ladel
Water - 43
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