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Zambezi River Basin Atlas of the Changing Environment

The Zambezi River Basin Atlas of the Changing Environment, the first of its kind in the Zambezi River Basin and in southern Africa, will be launched on 29 May in Luanda, Angola at a meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Water.

Available online

The Atlas uses satellite images, high resolution photographs, illustrative text and graphics to present various socio-economic issues in the Zambezi basin, and provides striking evidence that can be used as a basis for intervention at local, national, regional and basin levels.

Stretching across part of eight SADC Member States -- Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- the basin is a source of livelihood for many of the people in those countries.

They depend on the Zambezi basin for socio-economic activities ranging from agriculture and forestry, mining, to conservation and tourism. However, human pressure on natural resources coupled with climate change has resulted in inevitable impact in the basin, affecting socio-economic development.

Satellite images show that the basin has undergone major environmental changes in the past 20 years including land degradation, loss of forests, expansion of urban and mining areas as well as the spread of alien plant species. According to the Atlas, the population in the basin is increasing, and is expected to reach 51 million by 2025.

The Atlas also highlights efforts to protect the environment, showing that six Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) have been established in the basin to promote sustainable development, including the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA that spans 287,000 square kilometres covering Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Atlas is a collaborative initiative with the objective of providing evidence to inform people about the changing environment in the Zambezi basin, to enable appropriate action.

The Zambezi River Basin Atlas of the Changing Environment was produced for the SADC Water Division, the Interim Secretariat of the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), and Zambezi River Basin stakeholders, by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) through its environment institute, the I. Musokotwane Environment Resource Centre for Southern Africa (IMERCSA) and GRID-Arendal, both collaborating centres of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


SARDC is an independent regional knowledge resource centre which seeks to undertake research that informs development. Established in 1985 in Harare and Maputo, SARDC has a strong track record of experience and expertise in research, collecting, analyzing, writing, documenting and disseminating knowledge from a regional perspective in a way that is accessible for different target audiences, including policy and decision makers in the public and private sectors, parliaments, academics, development agencies, the media and the public. Visit the Virtual Library Knowledge for Development.

IMERCSA is SARDC‚Äôs environment institute, named for a respected key partner in establishing environmental reporting in the region, the late Director of the IUCN Regional Office for Southern Africa, India Musokotwane from Zambia. The objective of IMERCSA is that decision-makers at all levels, from individuals to governments,  private sector, parliaments and media, are empowered to take positive action towards integrated development and management of the environment, water and other natural resources, and addressing climate change and impacts, through provision of research and analysis that are clear, objective and relevant. SARDC IMERCSA is the regional collaborating centre in southern Africa for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa, and contributes assessment from this region to the Africa Environment Outlook and Global Environment Outlook, as well as producing periodic reports with SADC and UNEP on the Southern Africa Environment Outlook.  

Wednesday 29 May 2013
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