Water doesn't come from a Tap - Day 1 of JoW
Dawn came too soon the following day. The Kafue District Commissioner was on hand to flag off the beginning of the journey. He handed a symbolic container over to us which will carry water from the Kafue River to Lusaka. “Kafue is the home of the Kafue River, and we are glad that the journey has started here.” – Mr John Kamana, Kafue District Commissioner. The journey started with a 2km walk through gravel road, past a recreational dam to the scenic Chita Lodge Marina. When we got to the marina, (with many needing to catch their breath) we all took in the beauty that is the Kafue River, and the purpose of the journey resonated with us. Imakando Sinyana from our freshwater programme set the tone for the day, talking us through WWF’s water stewardship work with key businesses operating on the Kafue Flats. Legendary song-bird Maureen Lilanda who is one of the water champions said it was astonishing how underappreciated water is as a resource.
We hopped onto our boat for the first leg of the boat trip to Njanji bridge where the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) and Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) personnel spoke to our Water Champions about water quality, quantity and some of the issues that threaten water security for people and nature. Our Water Champions engaged in discussions and saw first-hand how water is tested for PH levels. A stopover at Kasaka hydrometric gauging station helped us understand just how important monitoring is, for we cannot manage what we do not know. After a very scientific morning we took a pit stop back on “land” and had some healthy snacks, courtesy of JoW partners -Food Lovers Market.
Our break was short-lived as we quickly had to put back our life jackets and keep exploring the wonderful Kafue River. The boat navigated under the iconic Kafue Bridge and through some power utility pylons that transmit power from the Kafue Gorge Dam. We rode past the LWSC’s main abstraction point for water that goes to Lusaka City, learning that the current structure transports approximately 90 million litres a day to Lusaka. Just before lunch, our fine lady (the Lady Betty boat) slowed down at the proposed project site for the soon to be built Kafue River and Rowing Centre, an ongoing project between WWF Zambia, World Rowing and UNESCO-IHE.
Lunch was welcomed rumbling tummies as it had been quite a long morning with many facts and figures learnt! The inevitable post-lunch dip nearly had us crying out for a siesta but we trudged along, clueless about the energy that awaited us at our next stop – Kafue Boys Secondary School! At the school, our Water Champions were welcomed with great enthusiasm and the students were reminded of the role they can each play and be water champions in their own right.
We had a de facto rowing championship with some of the students trying out the new machines. After much banter and great interaction with the students, the two rowing ergs which were donated by FISA were presented to the school as a show of commitment to the school’s involvement in the Kafue River and Rowing Centre. “We value your contribution to water conservation as young people” – Imakando Sinyama, WWF Zambia. To end our time at the school, a challenge was set to find the fastest rower. 2 different students from the school joined a WWF staff member. Embarrassed to say that both students won! Safe to say day 1 ended on a very high note! Exhausted but exhilarated we headed back to base camp in preparation for Day 2.