Various stakeholders, including the International Water Security Network, recently came together to develop the Joint Action Plan for the Kafue River Basin that will, among other important objectives, improve water quality security in the basin.
The high level planning event was conveniently held in the Zambian capital city Lusaka, where most central government officials and business offices are based. Located in the heart of the basin, Lusaka is dependent for over 50% of its water supply on an offtake pipe emanating from the Kafue River. The Joint Action Plan is the first management tool of its kinds in the basin targeting water stewardship in particular and water quality security in general.
The Kafue Flats Joint Action Working Group, with high-level representation from various sectors, has been constituted to spearhead the initiative. Participating in the Joint Action Plan Working Group meeting in Lusaka were IWSN representatives Prof. Bimo Nkhata, Prof. Charles Breen and Mr. Machaya Chomba, an IWSN-funded Ph.D. student. WWF-Zambia, a key strategic partner of IWSN in the basin, was the main convener of the event.
This initiative leverages institutional innovation in the basin insofar as multi-stakeholder engagement is concerned. Based on a unique partnership involving government, civil society, private sector entities and researchers, the initiative capitalises on inter-organisational policy expertise required to effectively address water quality insecurity.
The Kafue River Basin is the most utilised basin in the country. Most of the country’s industrial towns and centres are located in this basin. The basin has massive potential for irrigated agriculture, hydro-power generation, fisheries, tourism and conservation. Yet, the water quality of the river remains a major challenge for ecological sustainability and economic progress.
The water quality of the basin is affected by industrial, mining, and sewage effluents emanating from major industries and towns along its course. Industrial sectors such as mining and agriculture have posed a big threat to the water quality of the basin for a long time. Most areas in the basin have been under increasing risk of pollution from sources that include leaching of chemicals from agricultural land, industrial effluent, sewage effluents, garbage disposal and land degradation.
These industrial sectors also contribute to water pollution through de-watering and processing. Industrial waste mainly consists of tannery, fertilizer and textile effluents, and oil from sugar factories. The impacts of water pollution are significant both in terms of social and environmental risks. The development of the Joint Action Plan is thus poised to take water quality security in a new direction.