- One of Zambia's most important wetlands, the Kafue Flats, is to be restored to its natural state. The home of abundant wildlife will see a return of the natural flooding regime that formed the basis of the ecosystem.
Zambia Electricity Supply Company Ltd (ZESCO), Zambia's Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD) and the environmental group WWF have signed an agreement worth €826,441 to jointly fund and implement an Integrated Water Resource Management Programme for the Kafue Flats over the next nine months.
- The project will contribute towards restoration of the natural ecosystem of the flats, says the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in a statement today.
The Kafue Flats are an open savannah wetland covering 6,500km2 along the Kafue River and are home to abundant birdlife and wildlife, including the unique Kafue lechwe, a semi-aquatic antelope.
The natural flooding regime of the flats has been altered by two dams built in the 1970s which have reduced the area flooded and changed the timing of the flooding. This has affected wetland productivity and resulted in reduced water resources, less grazing area, negative impacts on wildlife and fish, and reduced potential for tourism.
Hosting the signing ceremony at his premises, MEWD Permanent Secretary Dr Austin Sichinga said there was an urgent need to manage water resources of the Kafue Flats, which would improve wildlife and fish resources. He said MEWD would facilitate activities to extend similar programmes to other important water resources such as the Chambeshi-Luapula Rivers.
ZESCO Managing Director Mr Rodney Sisala said his company recognised the need to manage the water resources in the Kafue Flats for the benefit of all stakeholders. Mr Sisala said that his company appreciated the "need to support the unique ecosystem of the flats", as evidenced by ZESCO's participation in the tripartite agreement.
WWF Program Coordinator Ms Monica Chundama said WWF was "very excited" that the three organizations had embarked on this programme. She said the importance of water resources worldwide is illustrated by the United Nations World Environment Day theme for this year "Water - Two billion people are dying for it".
Ms Chundama further said WWF would continue contributing to improving management and utilisation of Kafue Flats resources for the benefit of all.
The signing ceremony marked the beginning of Phase Two of the Integrated Water Resource Management Programme. This phase will implement some of the management strategies identified in the first phase to jump-start restoration of the Kafue Flats, according to WWF.
Phase one of this project, which was completed last year, developed a management strategy and the KAFRIBA model. The strategy identified many ways to improve management of water resources in the Kafue flats while the KAFRIBA model is able to portray various flooding regimes in the flats.
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