Climate change and variability is projected to cause significant impact on current water storage, water supply and sanitation, irrigation and energy access. Climate change isalready constraining economic development and reversing years of economic gain in the watercourse, which has been categorised as exhibiting the “worst” potential effects of climate change among 11 major African watercourses, as confirmed by the Sixth Assessment Report of theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in 2021.
The Zambezi River Basin is vulnerable to floods and droughts due to cyclical weather patterns made worse by land use changes, increasing pressure on land, and climate variability and change. The rising frequency and severity of floods and droughts in the basin has led to increased human and environmental impacts that far exceed the capacity of communities to cope using their own resources.
Projected climate change,land use change, economic development, and population changes are expected to have far reaching consequences in the Zambezi River Basin. The combined effect of climate change and prioritising irrigation demand in the upstream catchment could compromise hydropower output.