The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) Officers from Head Office in Lusaka and farmers from Choma/Kalomo held a meeting in Choma with the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) Officials to discuss the issue of penalties on farmers with unregistered water facilities. The meeting was prompted by farmers in Kalomo, Zimba and Livingstone who complained to ZNFU during the last quarter of 2015 that WARMA had imposed hefty fines/penalties on farmers with unregistered dams. To this effect, ZNFU started discussing the matter with WARMA which culminated into the recent meeting with farmers in Choma.
During the meeting, farmers raised a number of important issues that required urgent attention of WARMA. Some of the key issued raised by farmers include;
• Delays in issuance of water permits by WARMA despite most farmers having made the necessary applications a long time ago;
• Lack of access to information by farmers on the registration of dams and other water facilities in line with the provisions of the Water Resource Management Act of 2011. The lack of access to information is largely due to the absence of print media in rural areas.
• Hefty penalties by WARMA on farmers that were alleged to be using unregistered dams/water facilities;
• Lack of adequate ZNFU presentation on WARMA Board;
• Confusion between the roles performed by WARMA and other government departments such as Water Board and UNZA on water issues in Southern Province;
In order to address the above challenges, the meeting agreed as follows;
• ZNFU to write to WARMA requesting to waive all water penalties/fines imposed on farmers. This is important in order to avoid collapsing the agriculture sector due to hefty fines/penalties;
• Farmers to register all water facilities in line with the Water Resource Management Act;
• Farmers to establish shadow Water Users Associations including all stakeholders in their respective catchment areas;
• WARMA to collaborate and work with ZNFU to ensure that all information on water use reach farmers as major users of water; and
• WARMA to consult ZNFU on water pricing strategy;