Adaptation to the Effects of Drought and Climate Change in Zambia


The project, "Adaptation to the Effects of Drought and Climate Change in Zambia", will support climate-resilient water management and agricultural practices. Pilot projects will test water harvesting and irrigation systems, improved land and water management practices, and crop diversification options in relation to financial sustainability and ability to reduce vulnerability to climate change.  The project's basic starting point will be the application of high quality climate risk assessments for the project, to inform the water and agricultural pilots.  The project will also seek to improve the capacity to supply and use climate risk information for seasonal climate risk management. Additionally, enhancing coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Zambia Meteorological Department is aimed at improving the efficacy of pre-existing early warning systems in communicating climate risk information to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Partnerships between scientists and end users will be established. Collaborative working around the formulation of adaptation solutions will build adaptive capacity, build trust and institutional capital, and lay the foundation for continued collaboration over the next few years and decades.

Source: UNDP Zambia Project Identification Form (July 2008)

Project Details

Climate change is set to increase food insecurity in agro-ecological zones (AEZ’s) I and II in Zambia. AEZ 1, which stretches along the Southern border, has the least rainfall. Within these regions, since the late 1980s, there has been a tendency for the later onset and earlier withdrawal of rains, as well as more frequent droughts.  In the last seven years of this decade, Zambia has had droughts in the rainy seasons of 2000/01, 2001/02 and 2004/5. According to the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) report of June 2005, 120,000 tons of food was required to feed some 1.2 million people before the next harvest in March 2006. The average annual rainfall for the pilot region is less than 650 mm - the lowest recorded being around 400mm - which makes it one of the driest parts of Zambia.  The average annual potential evapo-transpiration ranges from 1394mm to 1892mm - making this larger than precipitation in Zambia.  This means that Zambia has a precipitation deficit of up to 1100mm pa. 

Floods are becoming more widespread too: over half of Zambia’s districts affected in the last few years – 2005/6, 2006/7 and 2007/8 being the most recent - some for the first time in history. The impacts of these droughts have been widespread crop failure, outbreaks of human and animal diseases, displacement of human populations and destruction of property and infrastructure.  In 2004/5 and 2006/7, the affected population sizes were 1.2 m and 1.4m people respectively.

With very little infrastructure for water collection, Zambia is overwhelmingly dependent on rainfall. Water needs are met through boreholes and wells where available, or alternatively, rivers . Less than 5% of arable land is under irrigation. Climate change projections outlined in the NAPA  point to an increase in temperature and a change in patterns of rainfall, leading to prolonged droughts and localized flooding.  Experience shows that key crop varieties, such as maize, would not mature due to the shortening of the growing season in agro-ecological regions I and II, undermining food security in the region.  Assessments of the economic costs of climate change on agriculture in Zambia undertaken by the World Bank, with support from FAO, IWMI, Yale University and the University of Pretoria, indicate that AEZ I and II will exhibit strong water deficits at critical periods of the cropping calendars, resulting in severe yield decreases for specific crops such as maize. 

The NAPA highlighted that due to the shortening of the rainy season and higher seasonal temperatures, areas suitable for staple crops such as maize are likely to fall by more than 80%. AEZ I is already a marginal area for growing maize due to low annual rainfall.  Climate change is super-imposed on  unsustainable land-use practices such as forest clearing for agriculture and charcoal production, and combined with poor livestock management systems  have caused severe land degradation . Temperature increases are likely to degrade the quality of rangeland for cattle, thereby leading to reduced productivity of cattle.  The AIACC study of 2002 showed that the communities in Southern Province depend mostly on cattle for their livelihood and also for draught power.

Efforts by the government to promote early warning systems have not paid dividends because of weak capacity to supply and use seasonal weather forecasting to planning systems at all levels – national, district, and local communities. Furthermore, forecasts generated are not disseminated to relevant stakeholders - water managers, farmers, extension officers, and other agricultural/hydrological stakeholders - because of a lack of institutional processes for effective distribution. 

Food security is a priority in the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP).  The FNDP recognizes the threats to livelihoods brought about by climate variability and change, and it also recognizes the need for adaptation.  It ‘delegates’ to the NAPA the responsibility to implement priority adaptation responses The recently approved National Policy on Environment makes specific reference to the threats to soil and water imposed by climate change.  The Zambian NAPA identifies the provision of irrigation/water management, sustainable land management and the promotion of a stronger role of early warning systems for adaptation as the top priorities for facilitating better management of climate-related risks.  The proposed LDCF intervention will complement current agricultural policies and development support programmes. UNDP will play a pivotal role in project support by co-financing the project, but also by assessing the best national implementation modality, supervising implementation and mitigating project risks. Project implementation will be coordinated through the UNDF outcome 1: food security working group 

UNDP is a partner in the Joint Assistance Strategy for Zambia for aid effectiveness, aligned behind Zambia’s Fifth National Development Plan.  The LDCF project will seek opportunities to ‘bolt on’ to other relevant initiatives for broader adaptation mainstreaming, for example the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme The following table sets out agricultural sector programmes that will be assessed for adaptation value.  The interventions with the expected highest adaptation returns will be incorporated into the NAPA implementation project. 

Source: UNDP Zambia Project Identification Form (July 2008)


Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Citizens at risk of food shortages resulting from climate change induced drought and flood. Additionally, to enhance water infrastructure for citizens without adequate access for direct consumption and irrigation.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Zambia Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources
Government of Zambia
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project Status: 
Financing Amount: 
3,800,000 (as of July 10, 2012)
Co-Financing Total: 
9,800,000 (as of July 10, 2012)

Key Results and Outputs

  • Outcome 1: Climate change risks integrated into critical decision-processes for agriculture management at the local, sub-national, and national levels.
    • Output 1.1: Seasonal weather forecasts developed and applied to decision-making by farmers, agricultural sector planners and water managers.
    • Output 1.2: Trained farmers, agricultural sector planners and water and water managers.
    • Output 1.3: Collaborative partnerships between Met service and end users established.
    • Output 1.4: Revised disaster risk reduction policy reflecting long-term adaptation priorities.
    • Output 1.5: Economic impact assessment of the adaptation value of using climate risk information to adapt agricultural planning.
  • Outcome 2: Agricultural productivity in the pilot site resilient to anticipated changes in the patterns and level of rainfall.
    • Output 2.1: Technologies to capture and store rainfall tested and evaluated for financial sustainability and the ability to mitigate climate uncertainties
    • Output 2.2: Land management techniques designed to protect agricultural yields against climate uncertainties piloted and evaluated, e.g. a) protecting soils b) conserving water and c) planting resilient crop varieties
  • Outcome 3: National fiscal and regulatory policy incentivise adaptation responses in the agricultural sector
    • Output 3.1: National policy dialogues conducted to discuss project findings
    • Output 3.2: Agricultural policies, and investment planning adjusted to take into account climate change
    • Output 3.3: Identification of further policy work needed to adjust national policies in the light of project findings
    • Output 3.4: Zambian experience disseminated in networks related to water, agriculture and climate change, and in ALM

Source: UNDP Zambia Project Identification Form (July 2008)



Monitoring and Evaluation

Project Start:

Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits: UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project's term.  

End of Project:  

Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.

Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project's results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 

The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.

Establish a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 

Source: UNDP Zambia Project Identification Form (July 2008)


Jessica Troni
Regional Technical Advisor
Winnie Musonda
Country Officer
Amos Muchanga
Country Officer
Rasford Kalamatila
Program Coordinator