To Your Excellency Edgar C. Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia:
RE: Please declare the Luangwa River as a Water Resource Protection Area.
The Luangwa is one of Zambia's greatest assets and provides the country with abundant natural capital and ecosystem services. It supports local communities spread across 25 chiefdoms through provision of safe drinking water, floodplain agriculture, fishing, goods and trade, wild fruit industry (e.g. "Masau"), honey, local construction materials and local crafts. The Luangwa also has significant cultural and spiritual heritage for the country.
Further, as one of the world's greatest wildlife sanctuaries, the Luangwa supports an incredible range of wildlife. It is the only refuge for reintroduced black rhinos in Zambia and is home to some of the largest concentration of elephants and hippos in Africa, massive buffalo herds, and over 400 species of birds.
The wide range of wildlife and breathtaking views of this landscapes emphasize a world-class tourism industry that generates approximately 27 million dollars per year. This industry fuels most of the economy throughout the valley and supports many communities living along the river. We must keep the Luangwa free flowing for the communities and wildlife that depend on it.
Amidst the abundant wildlife and a booming tourism industry, the Luangwa faces many threats—including hydropower development, deforestation, and unsustainable commercial agriculture. The most dangerous challenge is a proposed dam at Ndevu Gorge, which would transform the river leading to loss of the natural capital on which livelihoods, wildlife-based economies, and heritage values are founded.
Your Excellency, I ask you to declare the Luangwa River as a Water Resource Protection Area under the Water Resources Management Act, No 21 of 2011, Section 29 of the laws of Zambia—and stop the construction of the proposed Ndevu Gorge dam. Furthermore, I ask that the government commits to developing a national hydropower plan that ensures the right dams are built on the right rivers, promoting development that optimizes economic development by minimizing negative impacts to people and nature.
Your Excellency, please secure the protection of the Luangwa as a positive legacy of your leadership for the benefit of Zambia and the world.