UPDATE ON THE WATER LEVEL SITUATION IN KEY RIVERS IN ZAMBIA

Map Showing the Stations Under Review

The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) is mandated to manage all water resources in the country. Key to this management is the quantification of the nation’s water resources. During the rainy season, the authority monitors water levels and discharges of its stations in order to inform the relevant institutions in the event of floods. Since 2015 WARMA has automated some key stations in order to improve its early warning system. The Authority continues in its efforts to develop its flood forecasting capacities in order to increase the lead-time within which an early warning would need to be raised in the event of floods.

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About 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.

Zambia's Water resources are important for economic growth and the well-being of society. Drying river flows, drying boreholes and reduced water for power generation are clear signs of how land-use and climate change are impacting water resources and consequently on the livelihoods of citizen lives and the economy as a whole.

Why Water Needs to be Managed?

Water is a resource with high value to the daily lives of millions of people and the Zambian economy. Major business sectors like nutrition, tourism and even the building industry rely on steady water supply. Zambia depends on groundwater: 60-70 percent of all water used in the country comes from this source. Even though the country is richly endowed with a lot of water in the form of rivers, lakes and swamps, its agriculture is mostly rain fed. At the same time, Zambia’s electricity sector is heavily reliant on hydropower (over 95%). The country’s citizens and industries rely on the valuable resource for daily life and operations.

Access to water is a basic human right which is often threatened when the resource is not properly managed and not available in adequate quantities and/or quality. Water as an economic good contributes to the prosperity of a nation. Water-related conflicts and disputes in Zambia are already apparent due to competing uses, namely domestic, the environment, commercial agriculture, hydropower and mining. Therefore, water has to be managed by a neutral authority to ensure equitable access for all user groups and prevent and mitigate further conflicts.

According to the Seventh National Development Plan (2017-2021) there is a strong correlation between economic growth, industrial growth and water consumption. According to a report by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, economy-wide annual losses due to load shedding in Zambia amount to 32.5 ZMW billion (representing 18.8 % of GDP) while losses to the agriculture sector are estimated at 2.83 ZMW billion (representing 1.6 % of GDP).

Paying for water emphasizes the value of the resource and encourages measures to protect future access. Of course, the community right to drinking water and ensuring sufficient flow to maintain the environmental values needs to be sanctified.

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