The African Development Bank has approved a African Water Facility (AWF) grant of €950,000 to support a project to help the Government of Zambia develop, test and adopt updated guidelines, which will be used as framework for programming as well as designing the financing, construction and operations of multi-purpose small dams.
The dams are expected to directly improve the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 90,000 people, and indirectly benefit about a million people living in rural areas, thus enhancing water security in more vulnerable parts of the country.
Specifically, the AWF funding will be used to modernise and update the guidelines that govern and promote investments in multi-purpose small dams, with the aim to give greater relevance to the selection of potential dams using criteria based on community interest and environmental protection, as well as to build confidence of potential development partners. This project should ultimately result in attracting the massive investments required to proceed.
The urgent need for building additional small-purpose dams in the country comes as increasing hydro-climatic variability due to climate change has intensified water stress, particularly in the drought-prone areas of the Eastern, Central and Southern provinces.
The small dams would help sustain the lives and livelihoods of local communities through multiple uses, by securing access to water: for domestic use; for agriculture, with the aim of increasing the agriculture yields of smallholder farming; for fish farming; for livestock; and, for various water-dependent activities such as mini hydropower systems, brick-making, tree growing, and food processing.
The small dams will also be beneficial instruments for climate change adaptation by attenuating the impact of flooding.
“The AWF is fully committed to supporting projects such as this one that propose water solutions poised to build resilience to climate change, increase food security and support socio-economic development,” said Dr. Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility. “Heavily hit by climate change, Zambia will greatly benefit from improving its water storage capacity as a way to adapt to increasingly unpredictable rainfalls – one of the main sources of water for people living in the regions targeted by this project.”
In addition to the delivery and testing of the guidelines, another important attribute of the project is its contribution to design planning and mobilisation of funds to serve as a springboard to scale up water development program, such as the national Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Implementation Plan (2007-30).
The project will be implemented over a period of 36 months from the date of grant signature. The Zambia Ministry of Lands, Energy and Water Development and the Department of Water Affairs will be the Executing Agency.