Water permitting, the process of assigning rights to the use of water, it has emerged as an important issue worldwide. Much of the controversy surrounding water allocation relates to the inability of allocation arrangements to accommodate changing economic, social and hydrological conditions. As a mitigation step to overcome challenges faced in water allocation, a computer based system tool has been developed to automate the task of managing the water permits at the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) under the Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD).
WARMA’s approach to regulating the use of water in Zambia is based on international best practices of integrated water resources management (IWRM) in line with the country’s national development agenda. The approach is governed by a core principle laid down in the Water Resource Management Act which states that “Water shall be used efficiently, sustainably and beneficially in the public interest for the present and future generations”. In line with this approach, the water permits database system is of critical importance in the operations of the institutions. The database tool developed fits into WARMA’s functions of granting water permits and licenses for the right to use water for various purposes under the Act. The tool also aids in establishing and maintaining an accessible information system and to publish forecasts, projections and information on water resource allocation in Zambia. A direct benefit of the water permitting tool is the preservation and protection of Zambia’s water resources. This will in turn help regulate the abstraction, allocation, use, development and management of water resources in a sustainable manner which is in line with WARMA’s mandate.