Flood, Flow and Flux: Climate variability and effects of the Kafue River regulation on pastoralism in Namwala District, Zambia

Shepande Kalapula, Liberty Mweemba

Rusangu University, School of Science and Technology, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, P.O Box 660391, Monze, Zambia

University of Zambia, School of Education, Department of Languages and Social     Sciences Education, Environmental Education Unit, P.O Box, 32379, Lusaka, Zambia

Accepted 28 November, 2017.

Citation: Kalapula S, Mweemba L (2017). Flood, Flow and Flux: Climate variability and effects of the Kafue River regulation on pastoralism in Namwala District, Zambia. Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, 3(3): 307-325.

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Copyright: © 2017 Kalapula and Mweemba. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Abstract

Governing common property resources for pastoralism in floodplains is a challenge. The case of the Kafue Flats in Southern Zambia in Namwala District illustrates how pastoralists have developed multiple resilience strategies to climate variability and altered flooding, flow and flux of the Kafue River between two dams. Accordingly, population in cattle have increased from 123,016 in 2010 to 123,738 in 2011, 128,898 in 2012 to 132,797 in 2013, and 135,306 in 2014 to 139,945 in 2015 and 145, 445 in 2016. This increase has reduced the area available for grazing per cow with respect to access to water and pasture. Compounded by droughts and increase in cattle numbers, the hectarage per cow has continued to decline from 3.8, 2.6 to 1.9 and 3.7, 2.4 to 1.7 in 2005 and 2017 in the Flats, lagoons and dry land respectively. This means that the Kafue Flats is prone to overgrazing in view of combined increased floodplain agriculture, successive droughts and increase in cattle numbers. Thus, due to lack of an enabling legal environment that protect pasture in common floodplains as well as pastoralists’ productive assets and livelihoods, climate variability and altered Kafue River flow has threatened the resilience and management of common property resources in Namwala. Grazing and cropping patterns have changed dramatically and flood-dependent livelihoods are threatened. Thus, this study re-conceptualizes the Kafue Flats as a dynamic ecotone ecosystem, one in which new rules for Kafue River governance can sustain pastoralism into a vital economic, ecological and energetic sector.

Keywords: Climate variability, Floods, Flow, Flux, Kafue Flats, Namwala, Pastoralists