The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced it will be adding more than half a million litres of water to Zambia’s river system, and is calling for local governments to also build more dams.
In an interview with the AP news agency, WFP Director General Paul Coates said Zambia had the potential to become the world’s biggest producer of sustainable food, which could help to reduce the countrys poverty and hunger.
The country has been working to boost agricultural production by increasing its water capacity by 1.5 million cubic metres (cubm), and by raising the amount of food produced per hectare (Gha).
But Coates acknowledged Zambia still lags behind other African nations in developing a food security strategy.
“We need to increase the amount we produce, but we need to do it in a sustainable way,” Coates told AP.
Zambia’s government has already set aside $3.2 billion for the project, which will be financed by the United Nations, WDF and other partners.
Coates said the country had the capacity to produce enough food to feed 2.5 billion people, but that demand has increased as a result of climate change and economic growth.
He said the Zambian government was also trying to develop a new strategy to boost water-saving measures and improve wastewater management.
Currently, Zambia imports almost a third of its water, but Coates argued that demand was set to increase, as Zambia continues to expand its dams and expand irrigation systems.
As of mid-2018, Zambias total water intake was about 14.3 million cubic meters per day, which is less than half of its total needs.
A recent report from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) found that Zambias current water management practices have not been working effectively, which led to the country’s water-related water stress.
This means Zambias water-use needs to be more carefully planned and managed, and the country needs to address its water scarcity, COVID-19 and the development of sustainable agriculture, the report said.
It said the government needed to ensure that its farmers had the ability to manage the environment, which would help to protect the environment and prevent water-borne disease.