IWRM is a possible solution to Zambia’s many water resources issues. Action has been taken to implement the Partnership for African Water Development (PAWD) 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 May 2003, the Canadian Government committed to support the Partnership Programme for Sustainable African Water Development with the Global Water Partnership. With support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Global Water Partnership (GWP) started implementing the Partnership for African Water Development (PAWD Project) in five African Countries of Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, and Zambia. The goal of the PAWD project is “to support the sustainable management of the countries water resources as a contribution to eliminating poverty and improving wellbeing and protecting natural resources”.

The PAWD project comprises three components:

  1. Support to the WSSD Target for National Integrated Water Resources Management Plans;
  2. Support to institutional development of existing, new and emerging partnerships;
  3. Support to integration of water into poverty reduction activities.

A major component of the project is to facilitate countries prepare the IWRM/WE Plans. GWP was well positioned to undertake this task as it had a network of multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable water resources management at regional, national, and local levels. These partnerships are neutral platforms, comprising government departments, NGOs, community groups, private sector, and academic institutions, which work jointly to identify solutions to problems and agree on a common approach to the management and use of water resources. GWP regional offices such as GWP-SA specifically provided guidance, technical support, and capacity building during the process.

Actions taken

In 2004, the Zambian Government through the Ministry of Energy and Water Development, with facilitation of the Zambia Water Partnership, began implementing the PAWD project by developing an Integrated Water Resources and Water Efficiency Plan for sustainable management of the country’s water resources. Support was provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Global Water Partnership (GWP). 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.

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 authorities;
  • 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.

It has been a challenge to undertake the process following the IWRM cycle stages. Some of the critical moments were:

  1. Commitment by Government;
  2. Integration with ongoing water reforms process in particular WRAP;
  3. Hosting of PAWD at ZWP offices at UNZA;
  4. Stakeholders and Partners active participation;
  5. Awareness and capacity building initiatives;
  6. Piloting IWRM activities in the Chalimbana Catchment;
  7. Acceptance by government that the IWRM/WE Plan being developed should be an Implementation Plan for water related issues in Zambia’s Fifth National Development Plan.

It is in this respect that Zambia now has a draft IWRM/WE Implementation Plan.

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 ongoing 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

Taking cognisance of ongoing initiatives and existing opportunities;

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.

Related IWRM Tools

National IWRM Plans


Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships