World Rivers Day Commemoration and Launch of the Zambezi Source Restoration Project in Zambia

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It’s a day set aside to highlight and remind us of the value that rivers bring to support life, encouraging improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. The World River’s Day Celebration in Zambia was held on the 26th of September 2022 at the source of the mighty Zambezi River in Ikelenge district, in the Northwestern part of the country. The theme of this year’s celebration was “The importance of Rivers for Biodiversity. “

World Rivers Day Celebrations
World Rivers Day Celebrations.
Copyright: Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation

In the key note speech read on behalf of the Minister of Water, Development and Sanitation, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Ikelenge constituency Hon. Elijah Muchima, highlighted the significant role rivers play for our livelihoods. He bemoaned the degradation of rivers and freshwater ecosystems due to unregulated and overuse of water, pollution, river bank cultivation and deforestation, causing erosion and siltation of river beds. He emphasized the Zambian government’s commitment to champion policy reforms and strengthen leadership in the management of water resources, including the restoration of the Zambezi source landscape.

The Minister of Lands and Natural resources delivering the keynote speech.
Copyright: Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation

In light of this commitment, the Provincial Minister of North-Western Province, Honorable Robert Lihefu MP, launched the Zambezi Source Ecosystem Restoration Project at the same event. The project, which will be implemented in collaboration with WWF, Stanbic Bank, GIZ’s NatuReS Programme, the Forestry Department and the National Heritage Commission, seeks to improve natural resources management in the Zambezi Headwaters area. Partners aim for restoring the ecosystem to a condition representative of the native ecosystem. They will also support alternative livelihoods for the local communities.

The Managing Director and CEO of Stanbic Bank Zambia PLC, Mr. Mwindwa Siakalima, stressed the need to preserve the health of the river and pledged to continue supporting the efforts to restore the ecosystem at the source. Additionally, the Country Director of WWF, Ms. Nachila Nkhombo, urged government to take steps to legally protect the area and commended the traditional leadership for the their support in protecting the Zambezi source.

The celebration ended with a tree planting activity at the Zambezi Source, led by Her Royal Highness, Cheiftainess Ikeleng’i.

Her Royal Highness, Cheiftainess Ikeleng’i leading the tree planting process.
Copyright: Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation

NatuReS is part of the initiative to protect the Zambezi River, as the degradation of the Zambezi River source has the potential to affect everyone, and no single actor can improve water security by working alone. Different capacities are required to prevent water insecurity. Only by partnering across sectors can the Zambezi River be protected in the long run.

Online event: “Stewardship for Circular Economy in urban contexts in Africa” featuring partners from multiple sectors

The sustainable management of natural resources requires shifting to a circular economy in which resources are used more efficiently, waste is reduced, and materials are recycled. During an online learning event organized by NatuReS on October 6th, 2022, partners from the public, private sector and civil society shared their experiences with promoting circular economy practices under a stewardship approach of cross-sectoral collaboration.

circular economy
The shift from a linear to a circular economy implies that resources are kept in the productive cycle as long as possible instead of being disposed after use.

Why stewardship?

The circular economy framework brings a new approach to waste and materials management, considering the whole life cycle of resources, while paying attention to sustainable production, supply and management of resources. Transitioning to a circular economy requires a collaborative effort from all sectors and can only succeed through coordination along supply chains and product cycles. Establishing multi-stakeholder partnerships under stewardship principles has been a successful way to introduce circular economy practices across countries.

While supporting partners in moving towards a circular economy, NatuReS is dealing with cross-cutting and interlinked challenges. How can waste streams be improved in fast growing cities and catchments? How can their impacts on water quality, health, ecosystems and flooding be reduced, while strengthening economic growth? How can waterways that transport waste – and plastics in particular – to the oceans be better controlled? An integrated natural resource stewardship approach combines aspects that are relevant to address plastics management issues and green economic development challenges.

Partner experiences with circular economy partnerships

Mrs. Patience Nsereko, Principal Environment Officer at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of Uganda, opened the floor with remarks about the Greater Kampala PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. She pointed towards the importance of partnering with the private sector, namely Ecobrixs, a Ugandan social enterprise working on plastic recycling, to come up with innovative solutions for the country’s plastic challenges. One example is the Innovation Hub, which was recently launched under the partnership at the International University of East Africa (IUEA) in Kampala. Students will be trained in recycling practices and enabled to start their own businesses in the sector. “Since Ecobrixs is already active in the market, we hope that this will help students to think outside of the box”, stated Mrs. Nsereko. Asked about partnership successes, she mentioned the improved cross-sectoral collaboration: “The regulations developed will have a better buy-in from the private sector, as policy recommendations have been actively requested by them.”

IUEA students during the launch of the Plastic Recycling Innovation Hub. Copyright: GIZ/Simon Akena.

Naa Adjeley Kome-Mensah from the plastic recycling company and “African start-up of the year 2022”, Kubik, gave an input about their involvement in the Partnership for Circular Value Chains in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The company turns low-value plastic waste into building material. Under the partnership, waste collecting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are trained in waste segregation and business management, as well as provided with collection tools, to enhance their efficiency of supplying plastic within the value chain. Kubik will then purchase the plastic for their production from these SMEs. A special focus lies on the empowerment of women, many of whom are working as informal waste collectors, capacitating them to become a formal part of the value chain.

plastic waste into building material
Naa Adjeley Kome-Mensah explaining the transformation of plastic waste into building material. Copyright: GIZ

The Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI), represented by its acting coordinator Mr. Kasenga Hara, who is also the Senior Inspector at the Zambian National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), is promoting circular economy practices as a means to increase water security in Lusaka. By protecting wellfields from solid waste pollution, for example, the water quality in the area is increased. The involvement of communities is key in this regard according to Mr. Hara: “It takes quite some energy to bring all partners on board, but without the increase of communities’ decision-making power, the partnership efforts are meaningless.”

Local solutions to global challenges

Partners from all sectors have come up with different local solutions to promote the circularity of value chains. What unites them is the realization that sustainable local solutions are only  possible through the multi-sectoral collaboration under a partnership. Examples include the “Green Spaces” in Lusaka, where community members, mainly women, are turning organic waste into methane gas for cooking, compost as organic fertilizer to grow tree seedlings and vegetables, and as food for the production of black soldier fly larvae which is a good source of proteins for animals. This project was presented by Ian Matimba from People’s Process on Housing and Property Zambia and Alice Phiri who is a community member from Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation. Different LuWSI partners committed to the green spaces, be it through resource mobilization, accessing the organic waste, capacity building or negotiating with local land owners and authorities.

Overview of achievements with a backdrop of the women from the green spaces showing the black soldier fly larvea produced from organic waste. Copyright: People’s Process on Housing and Property Zambia

Andy Bownds, founder and CEO of Ecobrixs in Uganda highlighted the establishment of the Plastic Recycling Innovation Hub at IUEA as an important achievement which was made possible through the Greater Kampala PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. Together with NEMA, the company strives to create a platform for informal waste collectors under the partnership. This is key to  empower the whole supply chain. At the moment, they are jointly establishing the Uganda Recycling Association made up of informal waste collectors. In the long-run, the aim is to create a fair-trade plastic recycling system in which it is possible to trace back under which conditions plastic has been collected and recycled. Thus, transparency and accountability along the value chain can be enhanced.    

plastic upcycling Uganda
Examples of products made from recycled plastic. Copyright: Ecobrixs/Andy Bownds

Finally, Takele Dessisa, Director of Research & Consultancy Services at the Addis Ababa Cleansing Management Agency in Ethiopia presented the manual baling machines developed and piloted under the Partnership for Circular Value Chains in Addis Ababa. Reacting to the fact that waste collectors need a way to efficiently store and transport the light yet voluminous PET plastic, yet do not have regular access to electricity, partners jointly developed manual baling machines. These are designed to be also handled by women and people with limited physical strength. A prototype has been tested at selected waste collecting SMEs and is currently being adapted according to feedback. Waste collectors can store and transport baled PET more easily and including at higher prices, which enables them to enhance their operations and hence their income. Through this intervention, partners aim at enhancing the efficiency of the plastic recycling value chain in Addis Abeba, thereby reducing the amount of plastic waste polluting the city’s  soils and water bodies.

manual baling machine
Waste collectors in front of the prototype manual baling machine. Copyright: GIZ/Meron Tadesse

As different as the solutions to promote circular economy practices shown during the event were, they all have one element in common: without cross-sectoral collaboration, they would not have been possible. The stewardship approach of taking joint responsibility for shared natural resources has proven successful in the showcased examples.

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Invitation to the online event “Stewardship for Circular Economies”

The circular economy framework brings a new approach to waste and materials management, considering the whole life cycle of resources, while paying attention to sustainable production, supply and management of resources. Transitioning to a circular economy requires a collaborative effort from all sectors and can only succeed through coordination along supply chains and product cycles.

Stewardship has proven successful in promoting circular economies.

The Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) supports multi-stakeholder partnerships in introducing circular economy practices. These partnerships bring together empowered communities, government stakeholders and a strong and engaging private sector to work on eye-level and jointly develop solutions to protect natural resources and promote sustainable economic growth.

During the event, representatives from public, private sector and civil society will share experiences, discuss best practices and reflect on lessons learned from promoting circular economies under a stewardship approach.

Join on the 6th of October to get hands-on insights! The event will take place online via MS Teams. Click here to join!

You will have the chance to listen to and discuss with the following panelists:

Public sector:

  • Patience Nsereko, Principal Environment Officer NEMA, Uganda
  • Kasenga Hara, Senior Inspector, National Water Supply and Sanitation Council, Zambia
  • Takele Desissa, Addis Ababa Cleansing Management Agency, Ethiopia

Private Sector:

  • Naa Adjeley Kome-Mensah, Kubik, Ethiopia
  • Andy Bownds, EcoBrix, Uganda


  • Ian Matimba, People’s Process on Housing and Poverty, Zambia

Agenda for the event:

Time (CET)Item
10:00 – 10:15Opening and welcome address
10:15 – 10:45Partner journeys and experiences
10:45 – 11:00Questions and discussion
11:00 – 11.30Local solutions to circular economy partnerships
11:30 – 11:45Questions and discussion
11:45 – 12:00Closing remarks

This event is part of the Urban October:

More infos will follow soon. Stay tuned! In the meantime, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter!

Towards City Resilience – Stewardship as a Gamechanger: Learning Event on 30th June 2022

The 21st century will be the century of cities. By 2050, urban areas will house an estimated 2/3 of the world’s population; current and predicted growth is deemed strongest across Asia and Africa. The power of this urban transformation means cities will lead national, regional, and global decisions related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

A key challenge in this regard is the impact of urbanization on (peri-)urban ecosystems, including the related consumption of natural resources. Uncontrolled urbanization is associated with inefficient land use and pollution through waste, industry, transport, and inadequate sanitation. The resulting degradation of ecosystems such as wetlands, soils, and waterways undermine the resilience of cities, including their ability to prepare for and cope with the challenges of increasingly volatile climate patterns and depleting natural resources. Furthermore, many communities lack the capacity and agency to participate effectively in developing integrated and evidence-based urban planning mechanisms. Insufficient coordination between private, public, and civil society actors is a significant obstacle to taking ambitious local action to reduce emissions and increase urban resilience.

Short introductory video into stewardship in an urban context. Copyright: GIZ/Lea Schwengbeck

In this context, the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) has supported a stewardship approach to collectively address urban natural resource risks in five African countries. Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zambia have successfully implemented multi-stakeholder stewardship partnerships that have improved the collective management of natural resources within those countries. By bringing together empowered communities, government stakeholders, and robust and engaging private sector actors, these partnerships can better develop solutions and increase resilience to the challenges cities face than the individual sectors could do on their own.

Stewardship in Cities Event
The online event took place on 30th June, 2022. Copyright: GIZ

During an inter-country learning exchange on the 30th of June 2022, more than 60 participants discussed the benefits of collective action in addressing risks to natural resources in urban contexts, the prevailing challenges this entails, and lessons learnt from partnership experiences.

Experiences from the public sector

Mr. Allan Nkurunzinza from Kampala Capital City Authority in Uganda shared rewarding experiences Kampala has made with stewardship through the PET Task Force, which led to the formation of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. Mr. Nkurunzinza stressed how effective stewardship entails tapping into the strengths of all stakeholders. Leveraging funding, technical, human, and other necessary resources from all sectors is crucial to meeting the goal of efficient service delivery to all city residents while resisting natural disasters. The Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership is another example of partners working towards increased city resilience through a collaborative approach. Mr. Nkurunzinza described the establishment of solid partnerships. While often a lengthy process, it is a “win-win” for all sectors, as partnerships offer the possibility to gather input from all different spheres, especially from the affected communities. Multi-stakeholder partnerships lead to developing solutions that are owned and supported by everybody. 

Kampala Capital City Authority
Mr. Allan Nkurunzinza, from the Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda, sharing experiences from stewardship partnerships in Kampala. Copyright: GIZ

Similarly, Mrs. Bwalya Funga Ndolesha  from Lusaka City Council (LCC) shared insights from Lusaka, Zambia, where flooding and the emergence of diseases, particularly in informal settlements, represent a significant risk. Mrs. Ndolesha underlined that it is worth investing time and effort into establishing platforms for engagement and leveraging resources (both human and financial). The Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI), a multi-stakeholder collaboration system of which LCC and over 32 other entities are members, is for example making progress toward protecting groundwater in recharge areas. Communities play a key role in planning and capacity needs to be built at community level. Communities  should develop Local Area Plans (LAPs) that feed into the integrated development plans  to foster development at city level. The local area planning process should  also take into account all issues affecting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), further creating community water stewardship awareness. LuWSI’s common platform has helped to map out stakeholders, available resources, and potential activities that will benefit from collective attention.

As part of a collaborative effort, LuWSI is contributing to a city-wide Integrated Development Plan to protect water resources based on issues  identified in the LAPs. Other enabling factors for successful partnerships are political support and partner will. For example, the Mayor of Lusaka and city councilors  participated in a water security training sponsored by LuWSI. Subsequently, LCC passed a resolution requiring that city planning decisions consider community water security. LCC’s appreciation for water security led to regulations regarding shallow wells and pit latrines to respect groundwater protection standards, among other things.

The Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) unites currently 33 partners from private, public sector and civil society. Copyright: LuWSI

Experiences from the private sector

From the private sector, Mr. Phil Daka, CEO of the Zambian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) stressed the importance of mainstreaming the agenda of water and natural resources stewardship into boardroom discussions. His emphasis on water stewardship dovetails with the sustainable development agenda, mentioning that if we are to achieve laudable environmental surveillance outcomes, we must integrate sustainability into the planning and measurement systems of business enterprises.

The concept of water stewardship must be articulated in terms that are familiar to business leaders. For the enterprise, water stewardship means adopting business strategies and activities that meet the needs of the enterprise and its stakeholders today while protecting, sustaining and enhancing the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future. Some businesses are already practicing resource use efficiency to reduce costs and increase their competitiveness and investment attractivity. Partnerships can be a way to hold companies accountable for the way they are operating and producing. Stewardship partnerships like LuWSI create awareness about problems businesses can face and ways to resolve them. Mr. Daka gave the example of Lusaka, where even small amounts of rainfall can lead to flooding. While people mainly attribute this to poor urban planning, there are other causes and exacerbating factors – one is the blockage of drainage channels through waste dumped by individuals and enterprises. Reflecting on this issue within a partnership creates learning opportunities; behavior change is therefore possible. LuWSI supports mainstreaming of collaboratively developed solutions to shared challenges into city-wide frameworks.

Mr. Peter Okwoko from TakaTaka Plastics, a local plastic recycling company in Gulu, Northern Uganda, also shared insights from participating in a stewardship partnership in an urban context. Poor waste management represents one of the biggest challenges for Gulu as a rapidly growing city. Under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership, partners have set up 40 plastic “banks” where residents can deliver their plastic waste instead of littering the environment. Company members pick it up and recycle or up-cycle it into new products like roofing tiles. The partnership prevents two tons of plastic from ending up in landfills every month, saving time and transport costs for the City Council and is on a trajectory to recycle nine tons per month by the end of the year. One of the most challenging aspects remains to change communities’ mindset about waste management, as many people don’t see it as their responsibility but as the City Council’s task. Through establishing regular dialogue, partnerships can contribute to changing this mindset. Another challenge is the lack of city-level regulations and by-laws regarding waste management. However, through partnerships, companies like TakaTaka get better access to city authorities and can voice their concerns and suggestions in a more targeted way. Finally, Mr. Okwoko recommended bringing more members of academia into stewardship partnerships.

man transporting plastic bottles
Young people collect PET waste from households and deliver it to TakaTaka Plastics in exchange for money under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership. The partnership also makes drop-off “banks” available where people can dispose of used plastic.
Copyright: TakaTaka Plastics/Peter Okwoko

Experiences from civil society

Mr. Benard Loum from Community, Empowerment, Education, Development (CEED) Uganda talked about the involvement of community members in partnerships. One of CEED’s priorities is involving young people and ensuring they become responsible for their environmental impacts. In the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership`s Partnership Action Plan, CEED advocated for making behavioral change one of the key priorities. For example, Gulu City Council has released a new plan for the city’s development. Under the partnership, CEED is now responsible for involving the community in its uptake and further action to ensure its implementation aligns with community interests. Community empowerment is vital according to Mr. Loum: “We need to make community members become consultants in their own rights.” Through activities such as community dialogues, radio programs, and environmental clubs in schools, communities are encouraged that their contribution can have a significant impact. Rather than needing more regulations, Mr. Loum urges the enforcement of existing regulations. Partnerships, creating platforms for transparency and accountability, are essential in this regard.

Finally, Fatima Nkhuwa from the Kamulanga Ward Development Committee in Lusaka reiterated that communities are too often not included in city planning decisions, such as deciding the location of boreholes. Moreover, communities are often unaware of their shared responsibility for common resources, be it by calling attention to a leaking community water pump or by preventing the vandalizing of community infrastructure. External and internal perceptions that the community is irrelevant regarding decision-making or action reinforce community disempowerment. Lusaka City Council and the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) participated in LuWSI-sponsored training focused on community-level city planning, including involving communities in urban decision-making. LuWSI also helped community members better understand their importance as drivers for change by exposing them to private and public sector stakeholders as equal partners, increasing their level of both awareness and empowerment. “We really have seen a transformation regarding the communities under LuWSI,” concluded Mrs. Nkhuwa.

Twenty women-led community enterprises from low-income communities of Lusaka were trained and certified in the fabrication of handwash stations under LuWSI. These are necessary in schools and neighborhoods to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases.
Copyright: GIZ

Panel discussion between all sectors

During a subsequent panel discussion, participants shared other experiences from stewardship partnerships. Participants agreed that establishing partnerships ensures the long-term continuity of activities. Collaborative platforms offer an opportunity to continuously discuss joint issues and solutions instead of only implementing emergency actions in reaction to problems. Long-term solutions developed under a collective action approach are essential to prevent the scarcity or endangerment of natural resources. Stewardship is a powerful approach to mindset change.

Awareness creation and empowerment of communities under stewardship partnerships are significant levers to initiate lasting change. According to Eddy Chikuta, LuWSI Coordinator, if community members become stewards of the environment, they will themselves get active in improving waste management instead of waiting for authorities. For the private sector, partnerships also offer an opportunity to implement their sustainability targets collaboratively, get better access to mandated duty bearers, and prevent conflicts with adjacent communities in the first place.

As a final point, learning event participants agreed that public authorities cannot solve natural resource challenges independently, although citizens often demand this. Collaborative partnerships can develop joint solutions and leverage financial and in-kind resources to support project implementation. Participants agreed that it is high time to realize that one sector cannot achieve sustainable development alone. Instead, all actors must fully and independently subscribe to it. Stewardship partnerships are a successful way to go, especially in increasing cities’ resilience.


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NatuReS is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-funded by the European Union and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This website’s contents are the sole responsibility of GIZ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ, European Union or FCDO.

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