On 9-11 April 2019, the closing workshop of the RAMOTSWA project was held in Gaborone, Botswana. This USAID funded project focusses on one of the most important shared aquifers in the Limpopo Basin: The Ramotswa Aquifer, which is shared between Botswana and South Africa. The workshop was attended by more than thirty participants.
RAMOTSWA Phase II
Implemented in two phases from July 2015 to May 2019, the RAMOTSWA Project supported the development of a long-term joint vision for cooperative management of groundwater resources in the Upper Limpopo region, particularly those shared by Botswana and South Africa in the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer Area. This project was the first to focus on transboundary aquifers in the Limpopo River Basin and the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer was the second such aquifer to be addressed within Southern Africa.
In the closing workshop, the main project outputs were presented and discussed. One of these outputs is the Ramotswa Information Management System (RIMS), developed by IGRAC to assist in the assessment, management and governance of the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer. RIMS was designed to store and share processed and interpreted data and information from the multi-disciplinary assessment of the groundwater resources. Its added value over traditional databases is that it provides a single portal to information originating from many different sources and disciplines and whenever possible it displays data and information in maps, that are widely accessible to stakeholders on both sides of the border and beyond. The closing workshop also addressed future sustainability and continued functionality of the RIMS. Roles and responsibilities in governance of RIMS were discussed to secure this sustainability, with continued technical support from IGRAC. The need for data update and sharing protocols was also highlighted as well as the important future role of the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM) and the SADC Groundwater Management Institute (SADC-GMI) in addition to the leading roles of the Departments of Water and Sanitation from Botswana and South Africa.
Other major project outputs include a Transboundary Diagnostic Assessment (TDA) of the aquifer, an airborne electromagnetic survey, agricultural water management solutions for smallholder farmers, a dynamic hydrogeological model, an assessment of the potential for managed aquifer recharge (MAR), and a thorough investigation of nitrate pollution, which affects the water supplies for 40,000 people, including its links to climate change and possible solutions. Based on these research components a Joint Strategic Action Plan (JSAP) has been formulated, that guides future activities to enhance sustainable management of this important resource.
Key message from workshop
A key message of the workshop was the importance of carrying forward the Ramotswa Joint Strategic Action Plan through the Joint Permanent Technical Committee on Water (JPTC-Water) between Botswana and South Africa, with support from LIMCOM. The event also underlined the need to organize future activities around the Ramotswa and other shared aquifers in close cooperation with river basin organizations, in this particular case LIMCOM. The RAMOTSWA Project has paved the way for other projects to carry its work forward.