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The government of Zambia plans to harvest water and tap into the precious resources more efficiently as the irregular rainfall leaves the country’s reservoirs running low
Experts have warned that drought linked to the current strong El Niño weather phenomenon is compromising water security in the southern African country of more than 15mn people.
An additional problem with the scenario here is that the rainfall, when it does occur does not get harvested efficiently due to lack of infrastructure to store it for use during the dry spells.
Minister of energy and water development Dora Siliya said, “The country has 40 per cent of the water (supply) in the southern African region, but most of it is not harvested.”
“A government-led project, launched in 2013 and funded by a US$50mn loan from the World Bank, aims to stop that waste by revamping the management of Zambia's water resources over five years. Siliya said US$30mn would be used to construct 15 dams and 300 exploratory boreholes around the country”, Siliya added.
The remainder would be spent on maintaining some of Zambia's existing dams. For businessperson Mooya Chilala, better infrastructure holds the promise of a more reliable water supply.
“Even in our homes, the water supply is erratic,” said Chilala, “At most we only have running water in the house four hours a day.”
Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company spokesperson Nshamba Muzungu blamed the erratic supply on pumps being unable to operate during heavy load-shedding caused by power shortages. But the project to develop the country's water resources should help its hydropower plants run at a higher capacity and reinstate a more stable water supply, he said.
“The initiative will also go some way to mitigate El Niño's effects on groundwater”, added Davis Mwanza, head of water engineering at Lusaka's Natural Resources Development College.