By ALICE NACHILEMBE
The Zambia Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP) under the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has committed $400,000 towards the Upper Kafue Basin and Lukanga Swamp Conservation study.
ZMERIP National Project Coordinator Gideon Ndalama said the Lukanga Swamp is an ecologically and economically significant wetland area in Zambia and is one of the major ecological systems in the ZMERIP project areas supporting environmental, socio-economic and livelihoods activities.
Mr Ndalama said the benefits of implementing a conservation plan for an ecosystem include management and protection of watersheds and wetlands and preserving fish and wildlife habitats, endangered species and biodiversity, reduction of air and water pollution.
He said that mining, agricultural, industrial, livelihoods and commercial activities in the Upper Kafue River Basin and the surrounding areas had negatively influenced the swamp’s goods and ecosystem services over the years.
He said the 18-month study which starts from the Kafue River in Chililabombwe to the Lukanga Swamp catchment in Central Province would provide information to enhance effluent management into the Kafue River.
And Project Coordinator at the ZEMA Project Implementation Unit, Mwiche Kabwe, said several studies had been conducted on the Lukanga swamp by various stakeholders, including ZEMA. However, the study scale was limited to specific themes, hence conducting comprehensive research to facilitate the conservation plan.
Ms Kabwe said ZEMA is currently consolidating biophysical and socio-economic data to establish a baseline of information gaps that will provide detailed information on better management of wetland resources.
She said the study would also develop a decision-making framework to facilitate the revision of the Lukanga Swamp Catchment Management Plan and develop the Water Monitoring Programme (WMP) and Capacity Building Action Plan (CBAP).
Various stakeholders, including the government agencies, academia, mining firms, industry, traditional authorities and civil society, have provided technical input into the study to be concluded in 2021.