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Assessment of Country’s Absorptive Capacity

Environmental profile Zambia is a land-locked country situated on the great plateau of central Africa between 1,000 and 1,600 m above mean sea level, with an average altitude of 1,200 m and a relatively moderate climate. There are three seasons: rainfall occurs mainly between November and April, which is also the main growing season; the period from May to August tends to be cool and dry; and September and October are typically hot and dry (Thurlow et al. 2009). The country can be divided into three eco-climatic zones, or agroecological regions, with average annual temperature and rainfall varying mostly by elevation (Campbell et al. 2010; Figure 1). Average annual rainfall decreases from 1,000 mm in the north to 600 mm in the south, and the mean annual temperature ranges between 18°C and 20°C (Chapman and Walmsley 2005). Miombo woodland is the main vegetation type in Zambia, originally covering about 47% of the country (Figure 2). Other dominant ecosystems are floodplain wetlands, Kalahari woodlands and dambos, in that order. The hot and dry southern valleys of the Luangwa and Zambezi rivers are dominated by Mopane and munga woodlands. Most of Zambia falls within the Zambezi River Basin, with the remainder falling within the Congo River Basin. The country is characterized by a dense river network, particularly towards the east, providing ample opportunities for the development of hydropower and irrigation, as well as extensive floodplain wetlands on the Chambeshi, Kafue and Zambezi rivers. By 2001, about 32% of the land surface had been altered for agriculture, forestry, mining and settlements (ECZ 2001). Much of the remaining natural capital base4 has also been degraded by fragmentation, over-exploitation and pollution.