Zambezi riparian states confer on climate change

01Mar 2019
Henry Mwangonde
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Zambezi riparian states confer on climate change

EIGHT water ministers from countries sharing the Zambezi river basin are meeting in Dar es Salaam to lay down strategies to rescue the water body from effects of climate change and increasing human encroachment. 

ZAMBEZI RIVER

The meeting comes amid reports that changing weather patterns and human activities are threatening the sustainability of the largest river in Southern Africa.

Zambezi waters are essential to regional food security, hydropower production and support the basic needs of more than 40 million people, projected to reach 50 million by 2025.

Experts say the basin has experienced some decline in rainfall particularly in the period  after 1980 while most climate models agree that the basin will be drier in the future with mean annual rainfall declining by as much as 12 percent by  the 2050s.

The river is also vulnerable to future impacts of climate change with increased risks of reduced water supplies, decreased hydropower potential, drought impact on irrigation and increased extreme flood events.

“There is need for member states to have collective strategies and plans to save the water resource because without doing so we are all going to be affected,” said Prof Makame Mbarawa, the minister for Water and Irrigation.

Prof Mbarawa who handed over the chairmanship of the Zambezi Watercourse Commission to his Zambian counterpart said bush fires, deforestation and drought are the main threats to the water resource.

Sylvester Matemu, the deputy director for trans-boundary waters in the ministry said strategies   involve coming up with long term and short term mitigation measures.

 “Each country has its own plans but we all share the resources. Therefore it is necessary to meet and come up with collective solutions to ensure we all benefit,” he declared.

Zambezi River originates in the Kalene hills in the Northwest Zambia at an attitude of 1,5000m and flows south and eastwards to the Indian Ocean, covering a total of 2,574 kilometres.

It is shared by eight riparian countries namely Angola (18.2-percent), Botswana (1.5percent), Malawi (7.5percent), Mozambique (11.6percent) Namibia (1.1percent), Tanzania (2.2percent), Zambia (41.9percent) and Zimbabwe (15.9percent).