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CAADP at 10 – Water is a Missing Link in the Southern African Development Community


Sullivan, A., Mashingaidze, I. 2013. CAADP at 10 - Water is a missing link in the Southern African Development Community. GREAT Insights, Volume 3, Issue 1. December 2013 - January 2014. Maastricht: ECDPM.

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Water has a low profile in Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) processes in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), presenting an opportunity to develop stronger ties between the agriculture and water sectors in the region.

Why water in SADC?

One third of the population in the SADC region live in drought stricken areas, and over 200 million are at risk of seasonal water shortages due to climate variability. Most predictions suggest regional climate will be characterised by increased incidences of extreme weather events, including droughts and floods. Combined with increasing populations, particularly in urban areas, the SADC region faces a growing challenge in sustainably managing its water, food and energy demands. Of particular interest to the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) is the water and food relationship across SADC, especially considering that over 70% of the region’s fresh water resources are shared between two or more member states.


It has been ten years since the signing of the African Union’s Maputo Declaration that launched the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), through which governments pledged to invest 10% of national budgets in agriculture to reach 6% sectorial growth. The CAADP framework has helped put agriculture back onto national and regional development agendas, and turned the tide on declining public and private sector investment in the sector. The CAADP process uses evidence-based analysis and prioritisation in the design, implementation and evaluation of agricultural investment programmes to ensure national agendas reflect the needs and aspirations of local communities, along four pillars.

Water in SADC national CAADP compacts

Water is only explicitly mentioned in CAADP Pillar 1, which seeks to promote sustainable use and productivity of agriculture water in both rain-fed and irrigated systems. Water is, however, implicit in Pillars 2— improving rural infrastructure and trade related capacities for market access; 3— increasing food supply and reducing hunger; and 4— agriculture research, technology dissemination and adoption.

To date, ten of fifteen SADC member states have signed national CAADP compacts to focus implementation of agreed agriculture sector priorities within each country. Only Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia explicitly mention water among their proposed priority investments, whilst Lesotho and Madagascar mention sustainable natural resources management and Zimbabwe names irrigation as a priority. The limited profile of water in CAADP processes is a missed opportunity for linking water and food in national priority setting and investment planning.

Experiences from the Limpopo River Basin

Over the past three years, FANRPAN has been implementing the Limpopo Basin Development Challenge Programme aimed at increasing the productivity of rain-fed agricultural systems, while reducing risk in Limpopo River Basin countries (Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe).

Most of the 7 million rural residents of this basin have a vested interest in water in national CAADP compacts and investment plans. The people largely rely on smallholder agriculture for their livelihoods, and require predictable access to adequate quantity and quality. Per capita water storage in the region is very low, and highly variable rains make sustainable agriculture even more challenging. Investment in infrastructure through CAADP—particularly small water infrastructures designed for multiple uses—should feature prominently in Limpopo Basin country compacts and investment plans.

Linking planning processes in meaningful ways

The CAADP processes provide an opportunity to develop stronger ties between the agriculture and water sectors in the SADC region. Concurrent with CAADP are on-going Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) planning processes at the very same regional, national and sub-national levels. These processes are rarely—if ever—undertaken with an awareness of each other. This is particularly critical in a region such as SADC, where 15 rivers are shared by more than one country, so called trans-boundary river basins.

SADC is uniquely placed to be a test case for linking CAADP and IWRM processes given its capacity, level of economic activity, infrastructure and enabling policy environment. The region has both water and agriculture sector policy frameworks that should be linked to ensure economic growth and build resilience.

The success of CAADP can only be realised if water is addressed as a critical component of planning and investment in agriculture— especially smallholder agriculture. Because this sector supports well over half of the region’s population, it is imperative that CAADP and IWRM processes begin acknowledging their co-dependency. Failure to do this means the vision of a food and nutrition secure SADC region without hunger and poverty will remain elusive.

Great-vol1-3-Sullivan-Mashingaidze-image1Dr. Amy Sullivan is Programme Manager for Natural Resources and Environment, and Mr. Ian Mashingaidze is CAADP Programme Manager at the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), South Africa.




This article was published in GREAT Insights Volume 3, Issue 1

Economic recovery and transformationSustainable food systemsAgricultureSouthern African Development Community (SADC)WaterAfricaBotswanaMozambiqueSouth AfricaZimbabwe

External authors

Dr. Amy Sullivan

Ian Mashingaidze