World Bank Launches Water Resources Assistance Strategy for Zambia

April 13, 2010

LUSAKA, April 13, 2010 – The World Bank has launched the Zambia Country Water Resources Assistance Strategy (CWRAS) to support the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s effort to address key constraints to economic development and poverty alleviation.
The CWRAS was developed with the Ministry of Energy & Water through a consultative partnership with multiple stakeholders. It outlines a number of options through which the World Bank can support the development of one of Zambia’s most abundant renewable resources.
Water has an important role to play in securing Zambia’s future success. Zambia has tremendous water resources, however they remain underdeveloped. The country’s freshwater supplies are 60 times larger than its levels of withdrawal; only 37% of people living in rural areas have access to safe drinking water; hydropower production is at 27% of the estimated 6,000MW potential; and only 5% of arable land is under irrigation.
Failure to integrate the management and development of water into economic planning will directly impact economic growth and development. Increasing floods and droughts will result in more people living in poverty. The CWRAS shows that enhanced infrastructure, institutional development and appropriate policies can have significant impact:

  • Rainfall variability is estimated to have cost an average of US$13.8 billion between 1997 and 2007;
  • Rainfall variability could trap 300,000 more Zambians in poverty over the next decade;
  • With climate change, future rainfall variation can potentially cost US$4.3 billion in foregone GDP over the next ten years;
  • Agricultural growth is reduced by 1 percentage point per year if water is not properly utilized;
  • Tourism contribution of 6-10% to GDP are linked to protection of important wetland habitats;
  • The Kafue River supplies water to much of Zambia’s population and industries (it accounts for 40% of the population, many mining companies, 80% of irrigation, and half of Zambia’s hydropower production), and there are alarming concerns in terms of both quantity and quality;
  • The floods of 2006-2007 affected 1.5 million Zambians, cost US$4.5 million in emergency operation, in addition to US$80 million in economic recovery; and
  • Unaccounted-for water averages 47% and results in annual losses of around US$50 million.

The six priority areas identified by the Strategy reinforce the Bank’s commitment to the implementation of the Government’s Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Implementation Plan in providing a solid platform for continued growth and development:

  • Consolidation of reform process and strengthening international water management
  • Water resources planning and development
  • Development of an infrastructure platform
  • Small scale multi-purpose water resources development
  • Protecting and developing water supplies
  • Water resources assessment and scientific services
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