This paper demonstrates that cooperation over international rivers can be achieved through situations where benefits of river development create bilateral dependence between basin states. The case study of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a bilateral water transfer in the Orange River basin between South Africa and Lesotho, is examined. Historical analysis of the negotiations leading to the project treaty agreement show that issues of apartheid and the Cold War heavily influenced the riparian relations between the two states. At times, the project faced the threat of abandonment due to deteriorating diplomatic conditions. However, the project was realized because South Africa and Lesotho not only shared the material benefits of the project, but also gained politically from committing to it. These political benefits are influential in creating interdependence between the basin states in order to ensure the reliability of bilateral cooperation.
- Lesotho Highlands Water Project
- water transfer scheme
- Orange River basin
- riparian relations
- benefits and dependence