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Press statement

October 19, 2018

NO AGENTS NO BOREHOLE FLOW METERS The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) would like to inform the general public that it has NOT appointed any agents to register nor install any...

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Press Statement on the Extension of the …

September 28, 2018

Press statement on the Extension of Borehole Registration The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) has extend the Borehole registration deadline from 30th September, 2018 to 31st March, 2019. Press Statement on the...

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July 16, 2018

PRESS RELEASE ON COMPLIANCE LEVELS ON GROUND WATER REGULATIONS The Acting Director General for Water Resources Management Authority responded to a press query from Media Houses on the compliance levels on...

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Zambezi Catchment

The Zambezi basin is the fourth-largest river basin in Africa, after the Congo/Zaire, Nile and Niger basins. Its total area represents about 4.5% of the area of the continent and spreads over eight countries.

 The Zambezi River rises from the Kaleni Hills in a black marshy dambo in dense undulating Miombo woodlands 50 kilometres north of Mwinilunga and 20 kilometres south of Ikelenge in the Ikelenge District of the North Western Province of Zambia, flowing south and then eastwards for some 2 650Km to the Indian Ocean. Its basin covers an area of 1359 000Km2 with a mean annual runoff at its mouth of 94 billion cubic metres per year (Tumbare, 2004).


zambezi catchment map



The region drained by the Zambezi is a vast broken-edged plateau 900–1200 m high, composed in the remote interior of metamorphic beds and fringed with the igneous rocks of the Victoria Falls. On the lower Zambezi, thin strata of grey and yellow sandstones, with an occasional band of limestone, crop out on the bed of the river in the dry season, and these persist beyond Batoka Gorge where they are associated with extensive seams of coal.

Hydrology of the Zambezi

There are a number of major tributaries that make huge contributions of volumes of water into the Zambezi River. The first major tributary to enter the Zambezi River is the Kabompo River in the north-western province of Zambia. A little farther south near Lukulu town is the confluence with the Lungwebungu River and this forms the beginning of the Barotse Floodplains.Further down West of Mongu Town, the Luanginga Riverwith its tributaries drains huge volumes of water from West and North West of Kalabo Town into the Zambezi. A few kilometres upstream of Mongu Town near Limulunga Royal Village on the east, the Luena River joins the Zambezi River.   The flow into the Zambezi River is seen during the rainy season when the Luena River overflows. Further beyond Senanga Town, the Zambezi River river is joined by many small tributaries on the Eastern side which includes Lui, Lumbe, and Njoko Rivers. A notable feature on the Zambezi River between Senanga and Katimamulilo is the Ngonye Falls and subsequent rapids. Further down the river flows over the famous Victoria Falls and then transcends downwards through the Batoka Gorge to the Kariba Dam. The Luangwa and the Kafue are the two largest tributaries of the Zambezi which join the Zambezi downstream of the Kariba Dam. At the confluence of the Luangwa, the Zambezi River enters Mozambique.

Hydro Power Production

The Zambezi River is the major hydropower resource in Southern Africa. Zambia’s territory occupies a larger area of the river basin at 41 per cent, than any of the other seven riparian Countries. In November, 2014 Zambia reached 2,257 MW of installed hydropower capacity, which represents 94 per cent of the nation’s total energy mix (International Hydropower Association, 2015).

Irrigation Potential

The irrigation potential in the Zambezi basin before the confluences of the Kafue and Luangwa is estimated at 159,000 hectares (ha) as follows: Located: 112000ha, Groundwater 15,000ha, Commercial: 2000ha, Dambos: 30,000ha. The Gross Potential Irrigation Water Requirementfor the Zambezi Basin in Zambia is 12,000m3 per hectare per year as shown in the table below. The discharge of the Zambezi River at the border point between Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe is 33.5 km3/year. The total discharge entering Lake Cabora Bassa from Zambia is estimated at about 77.5 km3 /year. (FAO 1997)


Types of irrigation

Zambezi River Basin (ha)










159, 000

Source: FAO, 1997


Zambezi Catchment Topography

The Zambezi River Catchment transcends across the five Provinces: namely North Western, Western, Southern, Lusaka, and Eastern. The catchment is shared by other seven riparian Countries and these are Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi (see Figure 1) (Himoonde, 2007; Naidoo & Bwalya, 2004).  The topography and vegetation type can be divided into three veldt[1] types namely highveldt, middleveldt and lowveldt (see Figure 2). The altitude of highveldt ranges from 1200 metres and more above sea level with some highlands extending above 2000 metres above sea level. The middlevedt is generally at elevations ranging from 900 metres to 1200 metres above sea level.  The lowveldt falls within the elevation range of about 600 metres to 900metres above sea level (Naidoo & Bwalya, 2004). Some parts of the country such Zambezi and Luangwa River valleys are at low altitude, even below 600 metres above sea level.

zambezi map

[1]Veldt refers to the wide-open rural spaces of southern Africa and in particular certain relatively flat areas covered with grass and open forests (scrubs).

WARMA at a Glance

What is WARMA?


The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) is an autonomous body established by the Water Resources Management Act, No. 21 of 2011. WARMA exercises control over all water resources in Zambia as envisioned in the Water Resources Management Act. The Act set out provisions to regulate the use of water in Zambia by considering or issuing of water permits with the exception of international shared water bodies.

WARMA Mandate


To preserve and protect Zambia’s ground and surface water resources and regulate the abstraction, allocation, use, development and management of water resources in a sustainable manner.

Who is Elligible for Water Permits


  • Farmers


  • Hydropower producers


  • Industries


  • Mines


  • Water Utility Companies


Who is exempted


  • Domestic and non-commercial users