Title: Challenges and prospects of small-enterprise Aquaculture for sustainable livelihoods and climate resilience in Zambia’s WEF-nexus

Author: James Nxytubase Nkhoswe

Supervising Institution: IHE Delft  - Institute for Water Education

Year: 2023




Food insecurity, fragmentation of aquatic ecosystems and carbon emissions are among the world’s main problems today. Sustainable utilization and management of water, clean energy and food resources are essential for human life continuity. Hence, the management of water sources, generation and dissipation of energy forms and production of food are all intricately linked whereby one impacts the other. Zambia is embodied with freshwater resources among them; rivers and wetlands, with the main energy forms being hydroelectric power (HEP) and charcoal or firewood, while food sources are supplied through irrigated crop Agriculture and capture fisheries. Though the many potential opportunities that small- enterprise Aquaculture possesses, its growth is challenged by many factors in Zambia’s Kafue basin.

Problem statement and study objectives

Wetlands degradation, freshwater pollution due to crop Agriculture, river-sand mining, deforestation, and carbon emissions due to unclean energy production and usage (charcoal and firewood), malnutrition (especially kwashiorkor and marasmus), poverty and illiteracy due to lack of income, are among core problems in Zambia’s Kafue basin. Population increase has also unstably worsened demands for a basic food basket (BFB), resulting in an invasion of Agriculture activities into the wetlands, especially during climate change-induced droughts. This study identifies small scale Aquaculture as a hopeful component of the food sector in the WEF-nexus of the Kafue catchment that could sufficiently leverage food security, and reduce water and energy demands for irrigation while offering alternative sustainable livelihoods to charcoal producers and farmers invading the Kafue wetlands for moisturized land.


In-person surveys and observations, semi-structured questionnaires, key informant interviews (KII) and focus group discussions (FGDs) were employed to collect quantitative and qualitative data. Identified key players included primary stakeholders in the WEF-nexus (smallholder fish farmers, extension officers and youth entrepreneurs), secondary stakeholders (Government bodies and NGOs managing WEF resources and wetlands, and tertiary players (charcoal producers and academic institutions).

Study results

The research study evaluated the factors attributed to the low rate of small-scale Aquaculture growth in the Kafue basin. Its epilogue provides recommendations for these challenges and shows how the sector could be applied as a climate change resilience strategy. Common variables found to be core sources of challenges include capital and loan schemes, fish diseases, cost and access to quality feed or seed, administrative organization, political scene, and social perception, especially among the youths and women in the Kafue basin and the general academic structure of Zambia.


Keywords: Small-enterprise Aquaculture, Food security, Water demand, Climate resilience, WEF-nexus, UN-SDGs, Kafue wetlands