Water risk | Mapping supply chains in Zambia

WWF Zambia | Kafue_Map_WWF 2015Water risk the new normal. Globally businesses are forced to be resilient, coping with a number of disruptions including the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather-related events. Water risk is becoming commonplace. Water is becoming increasingly scarce in a number of areas around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. It is currently ranked as one of the top five global risks.

To address the imminent water risk, WWF Zambia requested TOMA-Now to map the supply chain of key commodities in the Kafue Flats and the surrounding areas, to understand water related challenges and develop a strategy to address these risks. An opportunity exists to assess these risks in detail before water-related issues pose a substantial livelihood and distribution risk and to understand potential water threats across the supply chain. Zambezi’s freshwater ecosystems face threats from (amongst others) large-scale agriculture, through unsustainable water abstraction and pollution.

A number of major companies in Europe and abroad import goods and services throughout Africa, including Zambia. The sustainable production of these goods is largely dependent on a clean, adequate water supply. A company’s success, directly or indirectly, is consequently related to the availability of water resources across its supply chain.

Water risk has serious ramifications, addressing these early on is key. Further, an organisation like WWF Zambia is well placed to engage with key global private sector partners to develop strategic interventions and initiate leading activities to create robust water-savvy supply chains. A number of companies have already identified water risks internally but may need to extend this thinking into their local supply chains. Mapping of local high-risk supply chains have far-reaching consequences in terms of economic opportunity and development.

TOMA-Now | Water risk supply chain mappingBeyond resilience into action. Mapping international supply chains for risk by prioritising the actual commodities can give brandowners (especially those in international markets) keen insights into local conditions and trends and help them identify potential risks / problem areas as early on as possible. In the case of the Kafue Flats, key agricultural commodities in Zambia act as the starting point while we consider a variety of factors starting with water security but leading up to political and socioeconomic factors. Having access to this type of information allows for key strategic interventions. Although limited data may be available in some circumstances, a multi-layered approach looking at a number of aspects can be a game changer. Look out for our next article on detailed insights from this approach.

About the author

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Jaisheila Rajput is Founder & CEO of TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now. She  strongly advocates the use of green economy business models and actively supports organisations looking to rapidly innovate their business.

Jaisheila holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town.