Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in the Lwitikila River, Mpika District

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Mphande, Goodfellow
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This study assesses the impact of Climate Change on water resources in the Lwitikila River located in Mpika District of Northern Zambia. In the past few years, downstream water users have had conflicts over the use of limited water resources in Lwitikila River. There are reports that the old furrows taking water from the river have dried up. The local people have also indicated that the quantity of the water in the river has reduced greatly such that they have been forced to construct new furrows that take water to their gardens. Therefore, the main aim of this study is to find out the impact of climate change on water resources in the Lwitikila River. The study analyses the effects that temperature, sunshine hours and rainfall variations have on discharge and water level measurements. Furthermore, the study assesses the local people’s response and adaptability strategies to the effects of climate change. In order to effectively conduct this study, hydrological and meteorological data ranging from 1969 to 2008 has been used and was obtained from the Departments of Water Affairs and Meteorology respectively. The data which originally consisted of daily readings was computed using Excel into monthly and annual averages and thereafter analysed using graphical correlation method. An interview guide was used to obtain qualitative data from the locals and other professionals with knowledge and experience of climate change and its adaptability strategies. Results obtained from the study indicate that mean temperatures and maximum October temperatures have increased in the last ten years in the range of about 0.15⁰C to 0.20⁰C and have probably led to increased annual rainfall ranging between 30mm and 40mm which has in turn contributed to high water levels and flows thereby causing flooding in some low lying areas of Mpika District. The study has shown that apart from variations in temperature, sunshine hours and rainfall, there are many other factors that affect water level and discharge in Lwitikila River. Among the prominent factors observed to be affecting water level and stream flow are unlawful diversions of water through construction of furrows upstream, cutting down of trees along the river course and poor methods of cultivation. The results obtained from this study will be useful in the formulation of better adaptation strategies that will lessen the impact of climate change on water resources in Lwitikila River.
Climate Change