DANIDA Project

Project site:                                     Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)-Zambezi Basin
Project name:                                 Transboundary Research in the Zambezi Basin
Participating Institutions:                 University of Malawi, University of Eduardo Mondlane, University of Zambia, University of Zimbabwe, University of Kwazulu Natal, University of the Western Cape and ZAMCOM
Executing organization:                  WaterNet Trust
Project period:                                1 January 2013 - 31 December 2016

The Zambezi River Basin constitute of rivers that are one of the resources which are shared by a number of countries, each with different prioritized uses for it. Trans-boundary water resources management is important as a possible thematic area for the research, given that all the water users including the environment must have a fair share of the benefits from the resource. It is considered important that both upstream and downstream users have an equal and fair utilization of the benefits harnessed from the resource. As such, the management of such trans-boundary rivers has to be done jointly to ensure equity and sustainability. The latter is subject to the existence of an implementable legal and institutional framework.

Importantly environmentally oriented research for development is crucial in the Zambezi River Basin given the immense benefits that the communities are getting from the river such as fishery, flooded agriculture, transportation, tourism revenue. As such, the outcomes from this project will inform decisions on how the Zambezi River can be best shared by the riparian countries given its potential for further hydropower development and in view of the emerging objectives i.e. eflows-Flows that ensure that a riverine/wetland/coastal ecosystem continues to exist in a state that the system can continue to supply ecosystem services for nature and human livelihoods. Such research will also contribute to further capacity building on river basin planning and management in the region including the PhD students that will be engaged in the project. Research work of students will be informed and guided by the 2008 Integrated Water Resources Management strategy and implementation plan for the Zambezi river basin (ZAMSTRAT). The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) and all the relevant stakeholders will also be well engaged as they develop new reservoir operating policies in the basin.
The holistic approach to IWRM that this project adopts, will have more impact within the basin as a whole as it tackles the social, economic, hydrological and environmental aspects which are key elements that have to be addressed to facilitate development and improve livelihoods. In the long term this will contribute towards addressing poverty issues through, for example, the implementation of sustainable management measures in the basin. This could particularly be the case given that about 75 % of the population in the basin lives in rural areas and these are faced with varying levels of poverty and food insecurity challenges, some of which have been exacerbated by floods induced by the operation of the hydropower reservoirs.

The overall objective of this project is to contribute towards equitable water allocation and benefit sharing in the Zambezi basin through balancing energy production, improving livelihoods and achieving environmental sustainability. The PhD program will contribute to this main objective of the project by addressing the following aspects: 

Assessing the eco-hydrological effects of increasing hydropower facilities in the Zambezi basin and the effect of implementing environmental flows and the influence of ground water in the basin
Investigating the benefit-cost sharing approaches in the Zambezi Basin, socio-economic benefits of joint operation of hydropower facilities by the riparian states in the Zambezi Basin
Identifying and assessing strengthening institutional capacities in the Zambezi Basin, social effects of increasing hydropower facilities in the Basin and case studies on early warning systems for droughts and floods within the Basin

Participants for the Steering and Planning Meeting: WaterNet PhD programme on the 6th and 7th of February 2014 at the Carribea Bay Resort, Kariba, Zimbabwe