WASHINGTON, September 10, 2015 – The Zambezi River is one of the most valuable natural resources in Africa. Accounting for half of the installed hydropower capacity in Southern Africa, it plays a vital role in stimulating economic opportunities for 250 million people in the region. Subsistence agriculture and fisheries on the river also provide for three quarters of the Zambezi River Basin’s 47 million people.
Given increasing development pressures on the basin’s resources and the impacts of climate change, the need to ensure sustainable management of the river’s waters is more critical than ever. Acknowledging the importance of the basin for energy and food security, the eight riparian countries – Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – have advanced cooperative development for many years.
The eight riparian states enacted the “Agreement on the Establishment of the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM)” in 2011. This introduced a framework for promoting the equitable utilization, efficient management, and sustainable development of the Zambezi River Basin. Realizing this vision requires a combination of strong institutions to drive this process, information sharing to inform decision making, and infrastructure investments to provide for people’s basic needs and boost economic growth.
The World Bank’s Zambezi River Basin Program is designed to respond to Southern Africa’s development needs. Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) helps bring together the various commitments within a World Bank-financed $2 billion portfolio to facilitate dialogue between riparian states and further drive the development of water resources for sustainable growth. As part of this program, a long-term engagement with ZAMCOM and the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) is empowering regional bodies with the institutional mechanisms and information platforms to better manage shared water resources and advance high-priority infrastructure investments.