WWF Zambia Looks Forward to a “Green” 2020 National Budget | WWF Zambia

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WWF Zambia Looks Forward to a “Green” 2020 National Budget

WWF Zambia Response to the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to the 4th Session of the 12th National Assembly, delivered on 13th September, 2019.

WWF Zambia wishes to congratulate His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu for delivering a “green” focused state of the nation address which places great emphasis on the need for urgent and bold collective action towards mitigating the severe impacts of climate change on livelihoods and the economy. Prolonged droughts and flooding in some parts of the country now threaten the food and energy security of our population. Droughts are also affecting wildlife and tourism. Without bold action now, the country is likely to face multiple economic and social crises, which we must take action to prevent in order to ensure food, water and energy security.

Government has declared a drought in Lusaka, Southern and Western provinces, implying a need not only for relief food, but a necessity to invest in climate smart agriculture that ensures long term food security.  Areas experiencing droughts have consequently been affected by food insecurity. The drought has also undermined the country’s capacity to generate hydroelectricity, leading to significant economy wide impacts. In other areas, flooding due to climate change has also had serious impacts on livelihoods and economic activities.

WWF shares the view that the impacts of climate change are worsened by the continued unsustainable use of our country’s finite natural resources. Zambia’s developmental model must be one that is embedded in strategies that promote a balance between the needs of the economy today and the necessity for the environment to maintain its ability to replenish the biodiversity assets needed to support our economy and the sustainable development agenda. However, these assets are increasingly under risk; the threats become more severe by the day, and the need for action has never been more urgent.

Whilst WWF recognizes the government’s fiscal challenges as a result of the current high debt burden, high wage bill, and general high expenses on recurrent expenditures, WWF is of the considered view that opportunities for expanding fiscal space beyond mining do exist if as a country we make deliberate investments and improve regulation of the natural resource sector. WWF would like to emphasize the need to urgently implement the national economic diversification roadmap that will lead to less dependence on commodity export but become more focused on strengthening a service-led economy, through harnessing existing potential in wildlife, forestry and water resources.

Wildlife & Tourism
WWF is a strong proponent of the concept of eco-tourism. Key requirements for building eco-tourism based economic models are policy and public investment measures that can attract sufficient levels of private sector and conservation investments to create robust wildlife based local economies, similar to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. WWF is aware that in 2018, wildlife (both consumptive and non-consumptive), contributed an estimated 11 million USD to Treasury. This implies that if further developed, the wildlife and tourism sector has the potential to generate much needed revenue that could contribute to closing the fiscal deficit that the country is now grappling with.  However, the sector has also not been spared by the effects of climate change. The reduction in water availability is a threat to wildlife and related economic activities. For the country to maximize returns from wildlife, it is therefore important that the government prioritizes increased public investments in protected areas and in particular, ensuring that the water needs of wildlife in drought affected national parks are met.

WWF further advises that there is need to reduce unsustainable food production that contributes to climate change and environmental degradation, including accelerating desertification.
To address the impacts of climate on food production and food security, WWF recommends greater public financial commitment to the agricultural sector goes towards upscaling conservation farming practices for small scale farmers. This should include providing adequate field support and extension services to farmers in both drought and non-drought affected areas, and further enhance opportunities to maximize yields. Conservation agriculture is a climate smart practice that reduces vulnerability amongst small scale farmers who are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture. It is therefore our expectation that clear budget lines will be supported in the 2020 national budget to increase the number of farmers who currently practice Conservation Farming, particularly in drought prone areas. WWF further encourages government to implement policies that will bring a dramatic shift from producing high water demand crops to more climate resilient and commercially viable alternatives such as soya beans, castor oil, and industrial hemp. To effectively address the challenge of desertification, WWF recommends that Zambia joins the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative and commits to taking actions to restore its forests by the year 2030. This is particularly necessary because the country is currently losing about 278,000 hectares to deforestation annually.

Further, WWF recommends that in drought prone provinces such as the Southern part of Zambia, government should consider developing a tailored farmer support programme that will place conservation agriculture at the heart of the climate resilience building strategy.

Water Supply & Energy
It is evident that the country continues to struggle with energy deficits due to its current high dependence on hydroelectricity. It is WWF’s view that Zambia needs to mobilize more green investments in options such as solar and scale up these options if we are to positively impact rural areas as targeted by the President. We are aware that globally, the cost of solar options has reduced significantly, as such, Zambia should take advantage of these reductions to accelerate people’s access to power in rural areas, reducing their dependence on biomass charcoal.
The Country also faces a water availability crisis owing to the effects of climate change.  WWF is concerned about the uncontrolled degradation and deforestation around our water sources.  To ensure water availability and security in the future, it is important that the government takes immediate steps to gazette protection of our water sources as provided for by the Water Resources Management Act, number 12 of 2011.

To address water supply issues, WWF is aware that Government is currently considering options that include inter-basin water transfers and scaling up water harvesting techniques. We are of the view that extensive consultations coupled with detailed feasibility studies may need to be undertaken, particularly for inter-basin water transfer proposals, in order to ensure that bio-diversity risks and other potential negative impacts are adequately interrogated, cost-benefit analyses of the alternatives are explored, and subsequent measures are informed by scientific methods that show clearly what the tradeoffs are and how these would be managed.