From November 6 to 10, more than 200 water managers and water loving professionals gathered in Mbabane, Eswatini, to attend the 7th edition of the REMCO conference. And for the first time, it was hosted by the Joint River Basin Authorities together with Blue Deal Eswatini.
REMCO stands for River and Environmental Management Cooperation. It is a conference that is held every 2 years in one of the 3 Blue Deal countries in southern Africa: Eswatini, Mozambique and South Africa. These countries share the Maputo and Inkomati river basins. Climate change impacts the region through the greater frequency and severity of floods and droughts. In order to meet these growing challenges, transboundary cooperation is a must.
Water professionals, researchers, policymakers, stakeholders from the Incomati and Maputo River basins and partners from 7 countries, European and African, were all present. They exchanged ideas, talked about innovations and discussed past, present and future challenges in water management. This conference had a focus on improving collaboration on operational water management challenges. Topics discussed included:
- the participation of women and youth
- data management and exchange
- and the importance of water for a growing economy and vibrant communities (agriculture, tourism, industry, energy, etc).
The Blue Deal teams of all 3 countries participated. Representatives of Dutch Water Authorities were present to support, learn and discuss. Dutch Professor Herman Havekes gave a presentation on Dutch water governance. Other Dutch colleagues shared their experience and knowledge as to how transboundary water management with Germany and Belgium is important for the Netherlands as well.
Keynote from Ministry
Welcome remarks were delivered by each country. The keynote speech and official opening of the REMCO conference was done by host country Eswatini. Ms Dorcas Dlamini spoke warm words as Principle Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy. On behalf of the European participants, Ms Ellen Hemmers, head of the delegation from Dutch Water Authorities and Executive Board member of Dutch water authority Vechtstromen, shared the welcome and high expectations for the coming days.
During the week the results of the national elections in Eswatini became clear. Ms Ellen Hemmers congratulated the newly appointed Prime Minister Russel Dlamini, saying that she understands that the Prime Minister was well versed in issues of water and the importance of sustainable water management. The week after, the JRBA and Waterschap Vechtstromen congratulated the new Minister HRH Prince Lonkhokhelo with his appointment to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy which includes water resource management.
Next location: Mozambique
The last day of the conference is always set aside for a field trip. Tourism was included this year as a topic for both opportunities and sustainable water management. Delegates travelled to the cultural village of Mantenga. However, for those who had missed water after 4 days of inside conference, there was a water option to visit Maguga Dam in Eswatini. The next REMCO will be in 2 years in Mozambique as the previous was 2 years ago in South Africa.