The African Development Bank (AfDB) approved an African Water Facility (AWF) grant of €950 000 for Zambia, which will be used to modernise and update the guidelines that govern and promote investments in multipurpose small dams.
The aim is to help in the selecting of potential dams using criteria based on community interest and environmental protection, and to build the confidence of potential development partners.
The Zambian government will develop, test and adopt updated guidelines, which will be used as a framework for programming and designing the financing, construction and operations of multipurpose small dams, the AfDB says in a statement.
The dams are expected to directly improve the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 90 000 people and about a million people living in rural areas will benefit indirectly from them, enhancing water security in more vulnerable parts of the country, the bank says.
This project should result in attracting the significant investments required to proceed, it adds.
“The urgent need to build additional small multipurpose dams in the country comes as increasing hydroclimatic variability, owing to climate change, has intensified water stress, particularly in the drought-prone areas of the eastern, central and southern provinces,” the bank adds.
The small dams will help to sustain the lives and livelihoods of local communities by securing access to water for domestic use and agriculture, with the aim to increase the agricultural yields of smallholder farming, as well as fish and livestock farming, and of various water-dependent activities, such as miniature hydropower systems, brickmaking, tree growing and food processing, the bank explains.
The small dams will also be useful instruments for climate change adaptation, as they attenuate the impact of flooding, it notes.
“The AWF is fully committed to supporting projects such as this one, which propose water solutions poised to build resilience to climate change, increase food security and support socioeconomic development,” says AWF coordinator Dr Akissa Bahri.
“Heavily hit by climate change, Zambia will greatly benefit from the improvement of 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 the mobilisation of funds to serve as a springboard to scale up water development programmes, such as the national Integrated Water Resources Management Plan and the Water Efficiency Implementation Plan.
The project will be implemented over 36 months from the date of grant signature.