The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) water and energy sectors are under increasing pressure due to population growth and agricultural and industrial development. Climate change is also negatively impacting on the region’s water and energy resources. As the majority of SADC’s population lives in poverty, regional development and integration are underpinned by water and energy security as the watercourses in the region are transboundary in nature. This paper reviews the region’s water and energy resources and recommends policies based on the water–energy nexus approach. This is achieved by reviewing literature on water and energy resources as well as policy issues. Water resources governance provides a strong case to create a water–energy nexus platform to support regional planning and integration as SADC countries share similar climatic and hydrological conditions. However, there has been a gap between water and energy sector planning in terms of policy alignment and technical convergence. These challenges hinder national policies on delivering economic and social development goals, as well as constraining the regional goal of greater integration. Regional objectives on sustainable energy and access to clean water for all can only be achieved through the recognition of the water–energy nexus, championed in an integrated and sustainable manner. A coordinated regional water–energy nexus approach stimulates economic growth, alleviates poverty and reduces high unemployment rates. The shared nature of water and energy resources requires far more transboundary water–energy nexus studies to be done in the context of regional integration and policy formulation.
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