IMG 20230412 WA0069

Improving communities by ensuring access to clean water in Zambia and Malawi

Improving water access in Zambia

Access to fresh water has long been a challenge for communities in the Katapazi Village in Zambia’s Kazungula district. Until recently, an estimated 37% of the population did not have access to clean drinking water. The women and girls of the village used to have to walk a kilometre to reach the closest water source which was either a stream or a shallow well. Ms. Beatrice Siambelele, a member of the Katapazi community, is among one of the many women and girls who had to take the long journey to fetch water, the quality of which was not guaranteed.

As a result of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) demonstration project in Zambia, solar panels were installed at the Katapazi Agricultural Camp. These panels are used to pump water from two boreholes, which is then stored in water tanks for domestic, livestock and irrigation purposes.

This project is being implemented by the European Union funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme with technical assistance from the Nexus Regional Dialogues (NRD) Programme "Fostering Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus Dialogue and Multi-Sector Investment in the SADC Region”, which is also funded by the European Union.

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The project has made life easier, especially for the women and girls in Katapazi, because thanks to the two boreholes and four water tanks, women do not have to travel long distances to fetch water for their families. The project has also empowered us women to start our own gardens where we grow a variety of vegetables that we sell in our community.

— Ms. Beatrice Siambelele, member of Katapazi community

Transforming the agricultural sector in Zambia

The demonstration project was implemented via the collaboration of the following three organisations  collaborated: the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA) and the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE). Each organisation provided expertise in climate-smart agriculture, integrated water resource management and renewable energy, respectively. Prior to starting the project, the three organisations conducted a baseline study and found that male-headed households were more likely to engage in investable growing than female-headed households. However, the project helped to promote gender equality in agriculture.

According to the study, maize, sunflower, groundnuts, and sorghum were the most grown crops. Maize was cultivated by 100% of the household surveyed and was used for both food security and as a cash crop. Sunflower, on the other hand, was primarily grown as a cash crop, with 79% of the households cultivating it.

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Improving livelihoods through sustainable energy and water solutions in Malawi

A similar project has been implemented in the Kamusiya village of the Dedza district located in the central region of Malawi. The village is based along Lake Malawi, the third largest freshwater body in Africa. A baseline study conducted at the start of the project found that there were no sanitary facilities in the village as well as a lack of water treatment availability. The villagers complained about the salinity of the water, relying on the lake for consumption and farming. Without a connection to the power grid, the community is an off-grid area. Phone charging was mostly done at the trading centre, and solar home systems were used in nearby households.

The challenges faced by the community will soon be addressed with the establishment of solar panels on a 4-hectare plot of land. The solar panels will be used to pump water for both irrigation and domestic use, while the electricity generated will be harnessed for productive purposes.

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The community of Katapazi is grateful for this project as it has enabled us to change the narrative of agriculture of mono-cropping of maize to diversifying to other cash crops such as okra and tomatoes. For so long, we have depended on maize as being our main cash crop but now with the adverse effects of climate change which are experiencing, we have learnt the importance of crop diversification through the guidance of the implementors of the GCCA+WEF Nexus Demonstration project.

— Mr. Everisto Simoono, Irrigation Committee Secretary for Katapazi Community.
Southern africa


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The Water-Energy-Food Nexus

The Southern African region is endowed with abundant water, energy and food resources and is home to 16 countries and 360 million people. With six landlocked countries and three island states, regional cooperation to manage water, food and energy resources is a necessity for poverty reduction and equitable, sustainable regional development. Around 60% of the population of the SADC live in rural areas relying on rain-fed agriculure and lack basic energy, water, and sanitation services. Ensuring the security of water, energy and food resources is at the heart of the region’s development, integration and resilience goals.

Since 2016, the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme in Southern Africa has been working across the region to institutionalise the WEF Nexus in public policy and planning. In the programme’s second phase they continue this work with demonstration projects that show the value-added of the WEF Nexus, capacity building activities and the identification of financing opportunities.

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Providing energy and clean water: The Nexus approach in action

The local climate change risks in Zambia and Malawi were identified through a participatory approach involving both communities. One of the aims of the communities was to use the WEF Nexus approach to increase farming capacity for food production and provide access to clean water and electricity. Prior to the implementation of the project, clean water was difficult to obtain due to the region’s drought-prone nature. However, upon its completion, the residents of these regions will significantly benefit from the demonstration project, particularly the Katapazi community, by facilitating the availability of potable water and reliable electrical power through upscaling farming irrigation.

The project has also focused on gender empowerment and sustainability, with a significant portion of the project´s work involving the installation of solar panels and related infrastructure. The emphasis on community participation has allowed for a greater involvement of women in farming and water collection activities, which have traditionally been their burden.


The Water Energy-Food (WEF) is critical in overcoming governance issues in dealing with complex and interconnected resource management challenges. Domesticating the WEF at the national level is critical to ensure that water, food, energy security and ecosystem resilience are achieved in the Region.

— Professor Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi from the International Water Management Institute and also a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

Leveraging Investments to Strengthen Water, Energy and Food Nexus approach in Southern African region

The achievements of the project in implementing the water, energy, food Nexus approach in national and regional demonstration projects are very significant. These outcomes are being highlighted at national and regional levels to showcase the feasibility and practicability of the WEF Nexus approach. The aim is to secure an investment of $50-60 million to strengthen the implementation of the WEF Nexus approach within the SADC region. Currently, the NRD Programme, GWPSA and SACREE are collaborating with national technical working groups to secure funding to expand the WEF demonstration projects. The partners seek to identify potential funders who could support these initiatives, focusing on deploying solar-powered water pumps for irrigation and domestic water supply and installing solar-powered processing equipment such as dryers and milling grading machines to enhance value addition.

More Information

  • GWP-SA

    The Global Water Partnership Southern Africa offers practical support for sustainably managing water resources to 16 countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Find more information here.

  • The Nexus Regional Dialogue in Southern Africa

    Find more information about recent news articles resources and activities of the Nexus Regional Dialogue in Southern Africa here.

  • The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme

    Find more information about the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme and its activities in other regions here.

  • The Nexus Training Material

    The WEF training material shall contribute to an increased application of the WEF Nexus approach in planning, policymaking and implementation. Find more information here.

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