In April 2008 the University of Michigan and the University of Zambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that approved a cooperative agreement to foster the development of a collaborative research and exchange program focused on concepts of integrated water resources management (IWRM) to be applied in the Zambezi River Basin in Southern Africa and the Great Lakes Basin in the U.S. The Zambezi River Basin, home to nearly 40 million people, is the largest river basin in Southern Africa covering 1.37 million square kilometers in eight countries. The Great Lakes Basin watershed is home to about 40 million people living in eight U.S. States and two Canadian Provinces and covers over 1/2 million square kilometers.
The MOU marks the culmination of a sixteen month effort which began in January 2007 and included two trips to Southern Africa, one in August 2007 and a second in November 2007. Individuals from The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Program, which includes the Zambezi River, facilitated the first trip to the basin through their contacts at the African Wildlife Foundation Zambezi Heartland team based in Kariba, Zimbabwe. The first trip provided an introduction to the range of problems and issues confronting application of IWRM in the Zambezi River and served to establish contact with a number of key organizations and people working to enhance and improve the management of the Zambezi’s water resources. Following the first visit, we were invited to participate in the “Championing Effective IWRM in the Zambezi Basin” Conference held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in November of 2007. The second trip and Conference provided an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues met during the first visit to the basin and, in addition, to meet new
colleagues including Professor Imasiku Nyambe.