Local stakeholders map vulnerabilities across the Zambezi Basin

This October at the 3rd Annual Zambezi Basin Stakeholders’ Forum in Lilongwe, CRIDF presented the work it has undertaken to map the hazards and vulnerabilities that impact livelihoods in the Zambezi River Basin. CRIDF’s hotspot mapping approach is unique and valuable because of the way it combines robust scientific processes with local stakeholder knowledge.

The Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) is in the final stages of developing a strategic plan for the Basin, which focusses on large-scale infrastructure such as hydropower and irrigation. ZAMCOM, concerned about a livelihood gap in its plan, asked CRIDF to conduct a vulnerability hotspot assessment similar to one it had conducted in the Okavango Basin to the southwest.

CRIDF collated socio-economic, infrastructural and environmental datasets to identify areas of compounding vulnerability – termed ‘hotspots’. The hotspots are areas with high exposure to hazards and low capabilities of communities to respond. Hazards include everything from floods and earthquakes to infectious diseases among populations with little water and sanitation infrastructure.

Looking beyond the data, CRIDF worked with stakeholders in each of the eight Zambezi countries in August and September to ask what they understood vulnerable areas to be. These national engagements were held among the communities living in the Basin. They allowed CRIDF to refine the map and consider what actions could best respond to communities’ needs.

Confirmed by the public, private and academic stakeholders who gathered in Lilongwe, the results of the mapping are ready to be taken to a project level. Livelihood interventions are typically small, community-driven projects; CRIDF’s experience has shown that grouping and packaging these into portfolios increases their bankability for financiers looking to invest in pro-poor resilience interventions at a Basin scale. CRIDF can assist ZAMCOM and the individual countries to use the evidence collected in the mapping to develop such potential in the Zambezi Basin.