old-tractor_smallerNoordoewer and Vioolsdrift are small towns on opposite banks of the Lower Orange River (LOR), some 350 km from the river mouth.

The town of Noordoewer is stituated in Namibia and Vioolsdrift is in South Africa. The scheme dates back to 1933 when it was constructed, serving the two settlements.

The canal is fed from a weir upstream of the river crossing. The canal infrastructure has supported agriculture on the southern and northern banks of the LOR for some 70 years.

Between 1933 and the independence of South West Africa, becoming the Republic of Namibia in 1990, the Vioolsdrift/Noordoewer Irrigation Scheme was under South African jurisdiction. An Irrigation Board was responsible for the local management of the scheme, with support from the South African Department of Water Affairs.

With Namibian independence, an international boundary was established along the LOR, and a border post was constructed between the two towns. This development required new management arrangements for the irrigation scheme. A Joint Irrigation Authority (JIA) was established at the end of 1993, based on an agreement between the governments of Namibia and South Africa. The Agreement establishing the Vioolsdrift and Noordoewer JIA was signed in 1992. The JIA Board was established in 1993, in terms of Article 6 of the Agreement.

The international Noordoewer-Vioolsdrift JIA is the only one of its kind on the Orange River, and is perhaps a pioneer for further cooperative ventures of this kind. Under the establishment agreement, the JIA has a limited brief. Its key function is to manage and control water supply to the farmers through the irrigation scheme. Representation on the JIA Board and in the JIA itself reflects the restricted brief.

The members of the JIA are land-owning irrigators. The Board comprises land-owning representatives of the two farming communities, and representatives of the South African Department of Water Affairs and the Namibian Department of Agriculture (DOA).