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Tag: stewardship

Urban Wetland Protection in Lusaka, Zambia

The Natural Valley Wetland is one of Lusaka’s last surviving urban wetlands. Located just ten kilometres from the city’s airport, it is next to both residential and commercially zoned areas including Natural Valley Ltd,  Zambia’s leading bottled water company. The wetland boasts extensive biodiversity, featuring a variety of flora and fauna, including birds such as the egret, blue heron, and Zambia’s national bird, the African fish eagle. 

Natural Valley Wetland
Copyright: GIZ

Due to its physical properties, the Natural Valley Wetland functions as a natural filter and purifier, improving the quality of water emanating from the city’s bombay drains, which flows through the major business and commercial districts of Lusaka before its discharge into the natural water system and percolation into groundwater reserves. By acting as a stormwater conduit and helping to purify wastewater, the wetland plays an important role in the water management of Lusaka.

However, the amount of plastic transported along the drain from the city represents a major challenge. Other threats include the seepage of lubricants and other hazardous liquid waste into the wetland through illegal dumping, more intense wet and dry periods due to climate change, cutting of trees, pilfering of plants, and poaching of native wildlife. By upsetting the natural lifecycle of the wetland’s ecosystem, whether through poaching or pollution, there is a great risk that the wetland will fail to thrive. Not only will this present a biodiversity loss for the area from the standpoint of preserving “green” spaces, but it will also negatively affect the wetland’s ability to keep rainwater during the rainy season, and filter groundwater as it percolates into the aquifer. The degradation poses a serious risk for the wetland’s provision of important ecosystem services.

Plastic waste in the Natural Valley Wetland
Copy right GIZ

In 2013, Natural Valley Ltd., constructed a dam with a capacity of 330,000 cubic metres on their land to better conserve the complex yet delicate state of the wetland, improve water retention during the rains and improve the zone’s capacity to prevent local flooding. The company, though concerned about the huge amounts of plastic waste that accumulates in the wetland, envisions a future where this waste becomes “plastic gold” serving as a resource to be recycled, supporting the improvement of the environment, and creating more prosperous communities

Plastic waste in the Natural Valley Wetland
Copyright: GIZ

NatuReS Zambia is working with Natural Valley and the Local Municipality Lusaka City Council under the LuWSI partnership to explore sustainable solutions to tackle the issues this urban wetland is facing. The goal is to reduce the flood risk, enhance environmental stewardship together with the surrounding communities, conserve the local biodiversity, promote micro-climate regulation, and inspire actors to collaborate in protecting the wider groundwater recharge area from contamination.

The marrying of public and business interests for the protection of groundwater is a vital ingredient in the collective stewardship of natural resources, especially in the conservation of one of Lusaka’s last urban wetlands. 

Author: Sonile Mutafya, NatuReS Advisor Zambia

Strengthening Collaboration: LuWSI CEO Breakfast and partnership signing event in Lusaka

Water crises are one of the major global risks for the coming decade, ranked third to have the strongest impact on economies and societies alike (Global Risks Report, 2020). But what does this mean for businesses in Zambia?

Across much of the country, factories, mines, farms, and industries are noticing how water stress is hitting their bottom lines and jeopardizing their business models. Lusaka is particularly under threat as groundwater becomes more polluted and depleted, and plans are drawn up for the use of water from the Kafue River.

Responding to this, the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) hosted a CEO breakfast on Wednesday, November 24th. This event, supported by NatuReS Zambia and WWF Zambia, brought together industry representatives, the Mayor of Lusaka, Her Worship Ms Chilando Chitangala, and the Guest of Honour, Zambia’s Minister of Water, Development and Sanitation, Hon. Mike Mposha MP. They discussed how Lusaka’s water challenges can be addressed to the benefit of the city’s economy and its citizens. The Minister emphasized the importance of water security and the need to ensure the protection of the country’s natural resources.

Zambia's Minister of Water Development and Sanitation, Hon. Mike Mposha MP
Zambia’s Minister of Water, Development and Sanitation, Hon. Mike Mposha MP
Copyright: LuWSI

In the spirit of partnerships as promoted by LuWSI, WWF Zambia and GIZ Zambia’s Water and Energy Cluster signed a relationship agreement as part of the event. The agreement aims to strengthen the cooperation between WWF and GIZ on the protection of Zambia’s natural resources and the implementation of green principles, such as supporting LuWSI to protect and enhance water security in Zambia’s capital. It also offers new prospects for a distinctive relationship between the two parties on the following; 

● Water security: Develop a long term strategy for Lusaka’s water security.

● Private sector engagement: Identify and concretise areas of joint action through a clearly defined strategic plan.

● Project portfolio development: Facilitate the development of bankable projects, nature-based solutions, and city resilience initiatives.

Signing of the relationship agreement between WWF and GIZ
Signing of the relationship agreement between WWF and GIZ
Copyright: LuWSI

The signing of the relationship agreement comes at a time when there is an urgency for increased action towards natural resources management and stewardship, as Zambia’s natural assets are threatened by degradation and extinction. This brings a heightened need for collaborations such as these for collective and impactful action.

Author: Sonile Mutafya, NatuReS Advisor Zambia

Women as water stewards in Zambia

Income diversification for economic wellbeing and ecosystem preservation  

No single actor can improve water security on its own. While water shortages, flooding or degrading water quality affect everyone, solutions can only stem from joint action. Also, water security must envision not only the water source itself, but the whole ecosystem within a catchment. Cardinal to any solution is the role women play in the stewardship of water and other natural resources. This is because women not only take care of the water supply at their homes, do the cooking or the laundry. They are also strongly involved in economic activities like farming or production.  

Water stewardship beyond water supply and sanitation

The Chambeshi Water Security Partnership promotes the participation of women in water stewardship further than water supply and sanitation in their homes. Instead, the partnership supports women in participating more strongly in the governing of their natural resources. It enables them to progress in diverse economic activities such as beekeeping, aquaculture, agriculture, tree planting and selling seedlings.

Beekeeping instead of charcoal production

Diversified income opportunities make them less dependent on traditional practices like charcoal production, which damages the forest and the whole ecosystem, thereby affecting water quality and quantity in the catchment. Charcoal production, by damaging the ecosystem on which people make a living in the catchment, would also not sustainably generate income for the women in the long run. 

Sara Chisha and Joan Sampa set up a beehive in a forest within the Chambeshi Catchment.
Copyright: GIZ

Instead, Sara Chisha and Joan Sampa are now setting up beehives in the forest. Selling honey is a new economic activity for them as they previously made a living producing charcoal. By finding alternative sources of income that preserve the health of the forest, also their economic wellbeing is safeguarded.  

Sarah and Joan haven’t achieved this alone. Joint action from various actors of the Chambeshi Water Security Partnership, supported by NatuReS, set the scene for this change process. Activities carried out by the partnership include trainings of community members on beekeeping, financing of beekeeping equipment and the establishment of the Twatampako Women’s Club, created to support women in commercializing their products. 

Women maintaining furrows of the Milundu stream, which are used for the irrigation of various crops that sustain the people of Lukupa Village. The stream passes through three villages with a total population of 3908 inhabitants.
Copyright: GIZ

These activities highlight that women’s management of natural resources goes far beyond collection and use of water at their homes, revealing them as agents of change in the governance and protection of natural resources. 

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Author: Sonile Mutafya, NatuReS Advisor Zambia

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