Before the construction of the Kariba, Cahora Bassa and other dams within the Zambezi River Basin, a technical committee comprising the then Federation of Rhodesias and Nyasaland (now Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi), Mozambique and South Africa was created to prepare a development programme for the Zambezi, which lead to construction of Kariba and Cahora Bassa Dams. After the construction of these dams this technical committee evolved into the current JOTC of the Zambezi River Basin Water Resources Managers and Dam Operators.
For many years the JOTC had been literary inactive. The current version of the Joint Operations Technical Committee (JOTC) was revived in December 6-7, 1999 in Songo as a platform for collaboration among these three countries, namely Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Originally JOTC was designed to be meeting four times a year at agreed venues in order to perform it functions. However the Committee met only a few times from 1999 to 2005. Because of this at the January 2005 meeting it was agreed to draw up memorandum of understanding amongst the members to formalise and strengthen the JOTC. A draft MoU was drawn up but again unfortunately after this meeting, the committee could not meet for a number of years and therefore the MoU could also not finalised.
During the years that followed 2005, the Zambezi River continued experiencing recurrent flooding in several places in its basin while also there was increasing pressure from environmental lobby groups for dam operators to implement environment flows in the basin to protect the environment. It was recognised that with improved collaborations among the water managers and dam operators in the basin it should be possible to mitigate the effects of flooding and at the same time release environmental flows to protect the environment.
In response to the above, on 16 December 2008, Administração Regional de Águas do Zambeze (Zambezi Regional Water Board, Mozambique or ARA-Zambeze), Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) and Zesco Limited met to draw up some programmes to address these concerns. First and foremost, it was agreed that the parties were to immediately start sharing hydrometeological data and operational forecasts with each other. It was further agreed that the three countries revive the JOTC which had been inactive and finalise the draft Memorandum of Understanding that was drawn up in 2005.
On 7 July 2011 in Songo, Mozambique an Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe for the collaboration on Data and Information exchange in the management of the Zambezi River was signed. In addition to this, the water and dam managers namely Administração Regional de Águas do Zambeze (ARA Zambeze), Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), Zesco Limited, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) also signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for the collaboration on data and information exchange in the management of the Zambezi catchment areas of Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Since the signing of the Intergovernmental MoU and the institutions’ MoA, the institutions involved have held collaborative meetings consistently. At the 8th JOTC Executive Meeting held on the 28th February 2013 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, a proposal to set up a permanent secretariat for the JOTC was adopted. Amongst other functions, the Secretariat will:
At the 9th Executive Committee meeting held on 3 October 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique, the meeting endorsed the change of name from Joint Operations Technical Committee (JOTC) to Zambezi Water Resources Managers and Dam Operators (ZAMDO). But, the legal approve of this designation will require further endorsement to the Intergovernmental MoU. Therefore, JOTC continue to meet regularly two time per year, on beginning of rain season and on end of rain season.