Luapula Catchment

Luapula River Catchment

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 namely: Lavushi Manada, Kancibiya, Samfya, Chembe, Milenge, Mansa, Luwingu, Chilubi, Chipili, Mwense, Kawambwa, Mwansabombwe, Mporokoso, Lunte, Nsama, Nchelenge, Chiengi and Kaputa districts.


Based on 30 year record obtained during the national water resource study by JICA in 1995, the long-term mean temperature for the Catchment is 21.4⁰C with maximum of 32⁰C and minimum 9.7 ⁰C. See figure below.

Luapula Catchment Temperature

The Luapula river catchment is located in Zambia’s third agro–ecological zone with the highest rainfall ranging between 1100mm to 1500mm. Rains begin in late November and last up to April. The rainfall pattern usually has two major characteristics, that is, unreliable and variable during the rainy season


The Luapula River Catchment has an average runoff of 161.5mm equivalent to an annual mean flow of about 1115.5 m3/sec. The Luapula river catchments harbours three of Zambia’s largest natural lakes namely:

  • Lake Mweru,
  • Lake Bangweuru and
  • Lake Mweru Wantipa.

Some of its largest tributaries includes the Chambeshi and Kalungwishi rivers. The Catchment has 15 river monitoring stations managed by the Water Resource Management Authority (WARMA).

Soils & Vegetation

Much of the Luapula Catchment is severely leached, sandy loams of acid reaction (the pH usually varying between 4 and 5) and not very favourable to most crops. Over 50% of the Luapula Catchment is occupied by grasslands followed by Miombo woodlands.

Geology & Geomorphology

Geologically, the Luapula Catchment exists in a Katanga Super group region which mainly comprises of shale, sandstone, dolomites, quartzite, limestone and conglomerate.

In terms of topography, the Luapula catchment lies between an elevation between 1000 and 1700m and is dominated by a degraded plateau which is characterised by a surface made by erosion and traversed by a network of rivers, lakes, isolated hills and floodplains.

Economic Activities

The major economic activity is agriculture and fishing. The Catchment supports some of the largest fisheries in Zambia with the most abundant species being; catfish, bream, yellow belly and tiger fish.

In addition to fishing is subsistence agriculture with most common crops cultivated being; maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, beans, and rice. Vegetable gardening is also done on patches of fertile soil on the banks of the rivers or wetlands