Knowledge Note

The Zambezi River accounts for half of the installed hydropower capacity in southern Africa and supports subsistence agriculture and fisheries for three quarters of the Zambezi Basin's 47 million people. The World Bank's Zambezi River Basin Program is designed to respond to Southern Africa's development needs – namely, to increase food and energy security, boost growth and productive industries, and reduce risks to lives and livelihoods. In 2010, a Multi-Sector Investment Opportunities Analysis of the Zambezi basin showed that cooperative water development could generate substantial benefits in the region. For example, coordinated operation of existing hydropower facilities could increase energy production by 23 percent without the construction of any additional infrastructure. Improved cooperation could also reduce risks associated with floods that cause losses of an estimated $1 billion each year. In agriculture, coordinated investments could irrigate an additional 343,000 hectares, boosting coverage in the basin by 45 percent and creating 500,000 new jobs.

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