The WaterNet concept was triggered in May 1997 by the SADC-EU conference on the Management of Shared River basins in Maseru, Lesotho, where ministers of water from Southern Africa and Europe emphasized the need to ‘level the playing field’ between riparian countries and to develop capacity building programmes in order to achieve this goal. The University of Zimbabwe and Institute of Water and Sanitation Development and IHE Delft (now UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education) jointly developed the concept of pooling of expertise among universities in the region that would allow for the establishment of a broad and multidisciplinary programme with specialisations tailored to a wide spectrum of post graduate students. Other knowledge institutes joined and strengthened their collaboration in order to address the capacity challenges faced in managing the water resources of Southern and East Africa.

A regional network in Southern Africa would enhance access to education, training and promote research into integrated water resources management. This concept came to be known as the WaterNet programme that was subsequently endorsed by the then SADC Water Sector Coordination Unit and the Global Water Partnership (GWP). After extensive consultations in the region, eighteen institutions founded WaterNet in March 2000 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Since then WaterNet has grown into an independent network organisation with 72 members in 15 Southern and Eastern African countries.


WaterNet Managers from its inception, "Our history is our strength"