World Water Day 2017 | WWF Zambia

World Water Day 2017

Posted on
29 March 2017
Every living being depends on freshwater for its survival. This vital resource has a priceless role to play from the food we consume to the energy we use. For this reason, it is fundamental that we protect and sustainably manage our freshwater resources.
On Wednesday 22nd March, we joined millions of people around the World to commemorate Water day under the theme ‘Why Waste Water?’. This was an opportunity for us to strengthen our resolve to collectively manage our freshwater resources in Zambia as the majority of all the wastewater from our homes, industry and agriculture flows back to nature. Despite its undeniable value to life, water remains a very scarce resource in Zambia; more than one third of the population are without access to clean water. This year’s theme is therefore very appropriate in considering the need to wisely utilize our water resources.

Members of YCT during the Symposium

At the center of the commemorations was the launch of the Kafue Flats Status Report (KFSR) which we presented twofold:  first to a group from the Young Conservation Trailblazers (YCT) by way of a youth symposium and later to our wider stakeholders at an official launch dinner graced by the Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Rowland Msiska.  The KFSR is the product of partnership between WWF Zambia and Birdwatch Zambia, Department of Fisheries, Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Department of Livestock, The Nature Conservancy, University of Zambia, Water Resources Management Authority, Zambia Environmental Management Agency, ZESCO Limited, and Zambia Sugar PLC based on the need to have a comprehensive multi-sectoral study of the Kafue Flats. The report provides much needed information on the trends and current state of affairs of the flats for their improved management.
According to the KFSR, the Kafue Flats is an open floodplain on the Kafue River which covers about 6,500km² within the wider basin of the Zambezi River. It is one of the country’s most important freshwater sources providing 44% of all water in Lusaka. Furthermore, approximately 45% of the country’s electricity is derived from the Itezhi-Itezhi and Kafue Gorge dams which are serviced by the Kafue Flats. The Flats also sustain around one million people (or 9% of the Zambian population) through fishing and farming activities and service up to 20% of the national herd of cattle. In addition, the flats are home to 28, 000 Kafue Lechwe which are found nowhere else in the world.
The KFSR highlights that the Flats are under constant external and internal pressures. Some of these include poaching of the Kafue Lechwe whose numbers have dropped by 70% over the years. This deals a heavy blow to the tourism potential of the Flats. Other pressures come from unsustainable fishing practices which are sometimes coupled with the introduction of alien fish species that put pressure on the survival of the native fish species found in the Flats.  These pressures, if not effectively managed, can have grave consequences on the natural existence of the Flats and, by extension, the livelihoods they support.
It is for this reason that the KFSR is an important tool for impact monitoring to inform strategic management decisions for the sustainability of the Flats. 
The value of the Kafue Flats on human life and ecosystems is clearly evident given the role they play. They are an extremely significant freshwater resource of international importance with recognition as a Ramsar site. Therefore, there is need for concerted efforts to manage the Flats and ensure they remain healthy so as to continue providing vital ecosystem goods and services to the Zambian society. In the spirit of the theme for Water day 2017, the KFSR will be essential in ensuring we don’t waste this invaluable resource for the benefit of future generations.
To download the Kafue Flats Status Report please click here.

Left to Right Eneya Phiri - Communications and Marketing Manager WWF Zambia, Dr. Roland Msiska  Secretary to the Cabinet and Dr. Nyambe Nyambe - Country Director WWF Zambia