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Water and mines in Southern Africa’s Zambezi Basin

Water and mines in Southern Africa’s Zambezi Basin

Rev. Kuzipa Nalwamba with a bottle of dirty water symbolizing the problem of pollution. Photo: Helen Putsman/WCC

09 February 2015



Rev. Kuzipa Nalwamba says that in her home country Zambia one of the biggest problems around water is environmental degradation coming from the mines.

“Mining is big business in Southern Africa and the welfare of the large corporations that run and own mines is often prioritized at the expense of local people and the eco-system. There needs to be advocacy around this area that begins with the concerned communities being empowered to speak for themselves,” says Nalwamba.

In many urban areas of Zambia there is also a problem of water service delivery.

Rev. Nalwamba is doing her doctorate in theological studies at the University of Pretoria and focuses on an ecological feminist standpoint. Contemporary examples in Southern Africa are especially relevant for her.

“Women can bring new energy, insights, and a new basis for harnessing water resources in the region in the quest for dignity, peace and just relationships among people and the rest of God’s creation,” she says.

The Southern African region has historically experienced its fair share of colonialism, forms of economic exploitation and climate change that have led to environmental degradation threatening water resources in the region.

The Zambezi basin spans 1,390,000 square kilometres and is spread across Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is home to 30 million people who depend on it for drinking water, irrigation, hydropower and maintenance of ecosystems and other economic and tourist activities.

Mining around Zambia’s Copperbelt region is an example of threats to the water resources in the region.

The role of prophetic ministries around ecological issues and water issues in particular needs attention.

She says the power of ecologically sensitive sermons that point to the threat to water resources is part of Christian responsibility.

Read also: Engendering water: an eco-feminist reading from Southern Africa. This reflection by Rev. Kuzipa Nalwamba will be published on the EWN website as part of the Seven Weeks for Water 2015.

A group of 17 people, most of them theologians, but also lawyers and an engineer met at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland, in a theological consultation on water justice from 8-11 December 2014 to develop a theological framework for water justice. Some of the group told Peter Kenny about the issue of water in the context of their regions, nations and local areas. So did some of the students currently studying at Bossey. The interviews will be published in the EWN website over the coming weeks.