VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
WHEN Chinyama Lumpa was growing up in the Southern Province, she and her mother fetched water from the stream, walking a distance of three kilometres every day.
Recalling her daily activity, Chinyama says, “We used to walk a long distance carrying buckets of water on our heads.”
The situation was worse during the dry season because Chinyama and other villagers had to even cover a longer distance to fetch water from the Zambezi River, as an adaptation measure.
But even then, the water quality was compromised-only that the villagers had no option but go for the dirty untreated water for their survival.
Thankfully, Chinyama and her family have now been redeemed through a Pilot Project on Climate Resilience (PPCR), being implemented by Government and supported by the World Bank. The project is helping communities to adapt to climate change.
Chinyama and her family now have access to clean drinking water and can even afford to maintain a garden, growing tomatoes and other vegetables for family food security and income.
“It is such a relief to have running water from a tap just besides our house,” excitedly says Chinyama, pointing at the water tap within her parents’ yard.
“We use the water for household chores and for bathing, as well as gardening.”
Chinyama’s case is not different from many other families in the SADC region who access water from trans-boundary sources such as the Zambezi River.
The Zambezi River which is the longest east flowing river in Africa passing through six countries on its 2, 700 km journey from its source in North-Western Province to the Indian Ocean, is one such example of trans-boundary water bodies on which several countries depend.
Over the years, the management of such resources has proven difficulty between countries, forcing some to enter into agreements such as the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Established in 1987 by parallel legislation in the Parliaments of the two countries following the reconstitution of Central African Power Corporation, ZRA is an intergovernmental body corporate mandated to harness and manage the Zambezi River waters for socioeconomic development.
Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection permanent secretary Bishop Edward Chomba says ZRA also maintains the Kariba dam complex including any future dams or infrastructure on the river forming a common border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Other functions of the authority are set out in the schedule to the ZRA Act of 1987 and include operate, monitor and maintain the Kariba complex and Kariba Dam and reservoir.
“The ZRA has since its inception ensures that Zambia and Zimbabwe have equal share of the water resource, each time despite the low quantity of the water in the Kariba dam, it is always shared equally,” Bishop Chomba said.
However in the recent past, the Kariba dam has only been able to have 60 billion cubic meters of water which is shared equally between the two countries.
Anchored on values such as fairness, transparency, integrity, respect and professionalism, ZRA has continued to carry out preconstruction activities leading to the development of the Batoka Hydroelectric Scheme whose construction is expected to start in 2017. The scheme once completed will benefit the two countries.
Further, highlighting the importance of trans-boundary water resources is the Zambezi Watercourse Commi s s ion (ZAMCOM), which is a river basin organisation set up through the ZAMCOM agreement by the eight riparian states that share the Zambezi River basin.
ZAMCOM was set up to ensure that the waters are shared equitably by sovereign states and also riparian states. It promotes and co-ordinates co-operative management and development of the Zambezi watercourse in a sustainable, climate-resilient manner.
The riparian states that share the Zambezi River basin are Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“ZAMCOM looks after water resources without depriving the other, because we are intrinsically connected and are doing very well in that area,” Bishop Chomba said.
SADC senior officer public relations Barbara Lopi says SADC through the adoption and ratification of the protocol on shared watercourses of 2000, has agreed on ways and modalities of management, development and protection of shared watercourses.
One of this method of joint management entails development, negotiation and adoptions of shared watercourse agreements which also provide for institutionalisation of the shared management approach through establishment of shared river basin organisations.
“For example, we have the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM) on the Limpopo Basin, the ZAMCOM on the Zambezi basin,” Ms Lopi said.
She highlighted that SADC has managed its water resources effectively so far and is looking at increasing development of robust and climate resilient infrastructure that will assure supply of water and protection from adverse impacts of climate change.
Meanwhile, Minister of Energy, David Mabumba says one major benefit from the Kariba Dam has been the generation of power which constitutes a larger percentage of electricity in Zambia.
“The construction of the Kariba Dam has seen the creation of employment for Zambians from the construction to operation, especially among the people that were once displaced by the construction of the dam through the development fund project caring for their wellbeing,” Mr Mabumba said.
The area around Kariba Gorge on both sides of the Zambezi River was home to the Tonga and Korekore people. Over 57, 000 people were resettled after the water from the dam flooded the whole of the Zambezi Valley upstream.
The Zambezi Valley Development Fund was set up in 1997 to finance the implementation of sustainable projects meant to alleviate the impact of the Tonga and Korekore people where Chinyama and the family also benefit.
The fund has continued to implement projects amongst communities as part of its social corporate responsibility.
ZRA annual report and financial statements for the year ended December 31 2015 states that among some of the projects of the fund include Kalomo District Borehole Drilling Project in Nkandazovu area, Gwembe District Hamatuba Primary School where the construction of teachers’ houses and classrooms at Hamatuba Primary school was done.
Other projects include the improvement of access to primary health care through the construction of a clinic and the Chirundu District and Lusitu Irrigation Scheme Project.
ZESCO Limited is a power utility which largely depends on water for its installations to generate electricity.
Public relations officer Henry Kapata said ZRA annually allocates to the water electricity company an amount of water at the Kariba dam to use for power generation for the period January to December of the following year.
This, however according to Mr Kapata is subject to review as the rainy season unfolds. ZESA, the electricity company of Zimbabwe also receives an equal amount of water for the generation of electricity as enshrined in the ZRA Act.
“After exhausting our yearly allocation of the water, any more water that is given to us is paid for with penalties,” Mr Kapata said, highlighting the importance of international agreements in the management of trans-boundary water resources especially in the face of climate change.
By abiding to the set regulations in shared waters, countries are able to benefit from transboundary water resources as evidenced by ZRA.
Communities along the dam like Chinyama and her family ultimately benefit from the proper management of trans-boundary waters.