Environmental quality and economic development in Zambia: Filling the data gaps

Project Active from to Cities

  • Understanding the effect environmental degradation has on economic development can’t be done without reliable information.
  • Previously in Zambia, the quality and accessibility of environmental data has been low – due in part to the fact that the management of this data was highly decentralised.
  • This project sought to centralise environmental data in Zambia on one database for use by relevant government agencies and for outside researchers, both local and international.
  • The finalised database was formally handed over to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) in March 2018.

Increasingly, policymakers in Zambia and beyond recognise the link between environmental quality and long-term growth prospects. For example, rapid deforestation contributes to erosion and desertification, with negative implications for hydroelectricity and agricultural output. Policymakers can’t address these issues of environmental degradation without easy access to data.

Previously, environmental data and policy management in Zambia has been highly decentralised, with relatively little information sharing and coordination between the multiple ministries responsible for environmental issues, or with non-governmental actors.

Policymakers at several Zambian agencies expressed a desire to address these shortcomings in data sharing and usage. In response, this project collected environmental data and policy documents from various Zambian governmental and non-governmental sources and stored them on a central database. The database includes various measures useful for monitoring environmental quality, like charcoal sales data.

The finalised database was formally handed over to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) in March 2018, and will be publicly available once its associated website goes live. It’s hoped that through the database, gaps and opportunities in Zambian environmental policy can be more easily identified.

This approach to data centralisation amongst governmental and non-governmental actors could serve as a template for similar initiatives in other sectors and countries.