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World Bank to finance water project in Zambia

80 per cent of water resources are generated within the country. (Image source: Carine06/Flickr)

The World Bank has said it will finance the development of the Zambia Water Resources Development Project (ZWRDP), which has been designed to benefit rural communities in the surrounding region

The project will lead to improvements such as increased water storage, the regulation of water and enhanced water resource systems for Zambia, as well as aiding strategies for optimising allocation and management of water within key catchments, and a strengthened capacity within the Zambian government to facilitate the management of water resources.

In addition, the project would reinforce hydro-meteorological monitoring, strengthen the national information management system, enhance water resources planning, develop flood forecasting and early warning systems.

Project officials added that they would also update the 1995 Dam Development Master Plan to identify a series of priority investments. ZWRDP will eventually support the provisions of the Water Resources Management Act, develop strategies and studies to ensure the sustainable and equitable development of water resources. It will also provide scope for increasing the capacity for negotiations, monitoring and compliance with international water bodies.

Zambia is endowed abundantly with water, which gives scope for significant economic growth. Close to 80 per cent of its water resources are generated within the country, with the average per capita internal renewable water resource at 7,377 cu/m, above the sub-Saharan average of 5,705 cu/m.

Only 1.5 per cent of annual renewable water resources, however, are being used with water withdrawals three times lower than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Alternatives such as hydropower also remain largely undeveloped, at 27 per cent of the estimated 6,000MW. Of arable land, less than five per cent is under irrigation.

Although abundant, access to water in the country is limited by lack of human, institutional, and financial capital.

Nawa Mutumweno

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