WWF – Zambesi River

WWF – Zambesi River

– Promoting an ecosystems based approach to sustainable development in the Zambezi River basin

Year 2007
Partners: WWF
Project Background
The Zambezi River Basin (ZRB) is Africa’s fourth largest River system. The basin covers an area of 1,4 million Km2 over eight countries and in a relatively dry part of sub-Saharan Africa, the river system supports livelihoods of over 40 million people in Southern Africa. A potentially controversial transfer of Zambezi Waters into the South African Province of Gauteng centered on Johannesburg’s ‘lndustrial Giant’ has been contemplated.  Starting off in the Kaiene Hills in western Zambia, the river covers 2,700 km to the Indian Ocean. lt supports an abundant wealth of human, animal and aquatic life and a number of protected areas along its course a wide variety and high number of large mammalian herbivores such as white and black rhino, elephant, hippo, giraffe, lions, wild dogs and various antelopes. The basin also virtually coincides with the Miombo Ecoregion which is one of WWWF’s priority places in its newly developed Global Conservetion Framework approved in 2007.

lt is noteworthy that in conservation terms a number of iconic national parks which attracts tremendeus tourism interest are linked to the Zambezi; Victoria Falls, Chobe, Kafue, Mana Pools and Lungwa National parks, being good examples. The basin with its growing human populations which depends on extensive and mostly subsistence agriculture has challenges facing conservation. As already suggested, this has to do with agricultural expansion, deforestation, invasive species and some forms of pollution. While the livelihood pressures are understandable, it is the absence of an Integrated river basin approach recognized by national governments that is most worrying. In some segments along the Zambezi and its tributaries such as the Kafue, changes in flooding patterns has changed ecological tunetions associated with natural flooding and increased competition for water.

As part of WWF’s engagement  in the Miombo  Ecoregion and the protection of the areas of biological significance and their interconnectivity, it is essentiel to ensure that a basis for the sustainable management of the Zambezi River is set in place.  The overall goal of the proposed project is to contribute to the development of institutionel frameworks and river management protocols which recognizes natural / ecological functions of such a river system,while addressing the needs of economic production and social development. This projcet in part, supported the development of an Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) Programme. This includes a policy function to spearhead lobbying policy at different levels and influence other key stakeholders towards a changed and more sustainable management of ZRB. This project will contribute to sustainable development and conservetion in the Miombo Ecoregion, thereby improving the livelihoods  of people living in the region, so they can continue to benefit from the natural resources many years to come.


Zambezi River Action Plan – Final report 2007 (PDF 2.092KB)