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Economic Accounting of Water Use Project
Accounting for the role of water in the economy


Key Documents

Orange-Senqu River Basin Pilot Project


The Orange-Senqu River Basin is shared by Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa, and is home to an estimated 15.7 million people. With a total surface are of about 1 000 000 km², the river basin is the third largest in Southern Africa, after the Zambezi and the Congo River Basins. Most of the water in the basin is used for irrigation and hydropower generation. In terms of institutional arrangements, the Orange-Senqu river basin is managed by the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) established through an agreement signed by Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa on 3 November, 2000.

Location of the Orange-Senqu River basin within SADC.
Source: Hatfield 2011


Piloting Economic Accounting of Water (EAW) in Orange-Senqu River Basin

Objective of the Pilot

The overall objective was to compile Water Accounts for the river basin using the developed standardised methodologies and draw lessons that can be used to further improve the methodologies.

Results of the Pilot in Orange-Senqu River Basin

The following are the main results from the pilot:

  • Policy Relevancy: Economic Accounting of Water is relevant to the policy priorities of Orange-Senqu River Basin and can address some of the challenges facing the basin:
  • Benefit sharing;
  • Optimal allocation of water between irrigation and industry;
  • Developing robust market-based mechanisms for ensuring water supply to strategic sectors; and
  • Appropriate pricing of the resources.

The methodologies are applicable at River Basin level however more time will be required to compile comprehensive water accounts for large River Basins like Orage-Senqu. It is recommended that River Basins compile Water Accounts once every 5 years instead of annually.

  • Water Use and Contribution to the Economy: Agriculture is dominant using 90 % of the water followed by domestic (6 %), manufacturing (3.59 %) and then less than 1 % for mining (see Figure). However, Water Productivity is low in Agriculture R1.50/M3 compared with R39.50/M3 in mining, R44.40/M3 in eco-tourism and R157.40/M3 in industry (see Table).

The Orange-Senqu River Basin Pilot Repor discusses the results in detail.

Water use in Orange-Senqu River Basin excluding exports.
Source: SADC 2010


Table: Water Productivity by country and sector - 2000 (Rands/M³).





South Africa







Figure not available-




Manufacturing and services





SADC 2010



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