Zambia: Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency planning process (#332)

IWRM is a possible solution to Zambia’s many issues in regards to its water resources. Action has been taken to implement the Partnership for African Water Development Project, aiming to facilitate the country in preparation of IWRM. It establishes stronger regional partnerships to create effective multi-stakeholder platforms, as well as stronger ties for collaboration between various stakeholders and institutions. This case study clearly illustrates the importance of ensuring participation by key actors. 


Zambia has over the years faced a number of challenges with regard to managing their water resources and these have resulted in inadequate supplies to meet various needs, pollution, inadequate information for decision making, inefficient use of the resource, inadequate financing and limited stakeholder awareness and participation. There is now a clear understanding that these challenges can be solved through applying the principles of integrated water resources management. 

In 2004, the Zambian Government through the Ministry of Energy and Water Development, with facilitation of the Zambia Water Partnership, began developing an Integrated Water Resources and Water Efficiency Plan for sustainable management of the country’s water resources. With support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Global Water Partnership (GWP) the Zambian government implemented the Partnership for African Water Development (PAWD) Project.

The GWP-Southern Africa provided programmatic and technical support to the project team which was hosted by the Zambia Water Partnership, and also developed a capacity building programme to assist in the planning process.

Action taken

A major component of the PAWD project was to facilitate the country in preparation of IWRM/WE plan. A structure and work plans involved following steps and stages: 

  • Zambia Water Partnership mobilized stakeholders with the support of the Government that demonstrated a firm commitment to adopt the IWRM/WE Plan
  • Several on-going reforms within water sector required integration and extensive stakeholder involvement had to be ensured. Consultations, media campaigns and capacity building events were organized by the project team in collaboration with the governmental authoritie
  • Involvement of water using and water influencing sectors in the planning and drafting process
  • Proposed programs in the IWRM/WE Plan Discussion Document were consolidated and became part of the 5th National Development Plan 2006-2010.
  • Identification of a “hot spot” and implementation of IWRM activities in a pilot area of the Chalimbana River Catchment.


The process generated the following outcomes:

  • National Frameworks for sustainable WRM and service provision in place and well advanced in Zambia - Input to the Fifth National Development Plan.
  • Ownership of national frameworks and process developed by all stakeholders- Integration with on going water sector.
  • Stronger collaboration with potential institutions to support projects- improved sector coordination around the FNDP has created opportunities for potential financing support for the IWRM implementation plan.
  • Strengthened regional and country partnerships for effective multi-stakeholder platforms – the ZWP has strengthened its governance with a new constitution.
  • Water issues integrated into NDPs in Zambia. The water sector has been identified as a key sector contributing to national development while ten IWRM related programmes have been included in the FNDP.

Lessons learned

Key lessons learned in the process of developing the IWRM/WE Plan included:

  • Ensuring participation by key actors with a lead of the Ministry responsible for national planning in the process
  • Anchoring the Plan onto National Development Framework Plan
  • Sustaining coverage by the media and public awareness
  • Building capacities of partners and participating organizations.