In Water Resources Management catchments are an institutional entity which relates to efficient management of a part of or the entire water resource in a specific area – be it ground- or surface water.

In a sophisticated catchment delineation process, the government and other stakeholders identified six major catchments for Zambia:

In addition to the natural drainage system, various factors such as sectoral interests, logistics and efficiency considerations, environmental considerations and social and economic development patterns were taken into account.

The Water Resources Management of 2011 Act provides for a decentralized management system in line with the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) that manages water resources at Catchment and Sub-Catchment levels and promotes local participation through formation of Water User Associations (WUAs).

Functions of Catchments and Sub-Catchments

(Enshrined in Part III section 18 & 20 of WRM Act No 21 of 2011)

  • Coordinating, supervising, monitoring and evaluating Water Resources Management activities in the water catchments
  • Disseminating Water Resources Management information, regulations and standards to the public
  • Collecting, monitoring and analysing hydrological and hydrogeological data for WARMA decision making
  • Developing water allocation plans and making recommendations on water allocations for the issue of permits
  • Contributing to the development of catchment management plans, sub catchment plans for water allocation decisions and other water use plans
  • Promoting participatory water harvesting and water conservation initiatives

Catchment Overview

The Zambezi basin is the fourth-largest river basin in Africa with an annual runoff at its mouth of 94 billion cubic metres per year. The Zambezi River is the major hydropower resource in Southern Africa. In addition, the catchment is important for agriculture. The irrigation potential in the Zambezi basin before the confluences of the Kafue and Luangwa is estimated at 159,000 hectares (ha). [more]

The Kafue Catchment is subdivided into two collective basins: Upper and Lower Kafue Catchments. The Kafue catchment is generally considered in the provision of high agriculture potential as it has good access to water. In addition, it provides the city of Lusaka with almost half of the necessary water resources. [more]

The Luangwa Catchment is approximately 145,690.33 Km2 within Zambia and has an estimated surface water potential of 661.4m3/s. Subsistence agriculture occurs along the river network. Other valued natural resources include fish, grazing for cattle and wild plant medicines as well as mining projects. [more]

The Luapula River Originates from the Lake Bangweulu and outlet of Chambeshi River as shown in the Map above. The Luapula Catchment occupies an area of about 113,323 Km2 within Zambia and 60,063 Km2 in Congo DRC covering the entire Luapula Province and part of the Northern Province. The Luapula Catchment covers 18 districts. [more]

The Chambeshi River Catchment is approximately 44,400 Km2 and has an estimated annual runoff of about 168mm equivalent to an average flow of 185m3/sec. The primary economic activity on the catchment is agriculture. [more]

The Tanganyika River Catchment has an area of about 17,096 Km2 on the Zambian side occupying about 27% of the Northern Province. The Tanganyika Catchment stretches across five districts of the Northern Province of Zambia namely: Mporokoso, Nsama, Mpulungu, Senga and Mbala districts. [more]