row2k Features
FISA's Kafue River & Rowing Centre Project
On African Waters
August 31, 2015
Oli Rosenbladt, row2k

FISA's Kafue River project is ambitious (image credit: FISA)

It's likely that most rowers spend a good deal of time thinking about, or even worrying over their water—how is it moving, how choppy is it, how deep is it, and any of a number of other factors that might influence their rowing. However, it's also likely that only the smallest subset of rowers spend any amount of time thinking about the health or quality of the water where they are spending their hours and days.

FISA, world rowing's governing body, began taking on environmental issues seriously in 2011 when it entered into a strategic alliance with the WWF International (World Wide Fund for Nature), but until recently, FISA's goals have been more general. Enter FISA's Kafue River & Rowing Centre project; located in Zambia, the project on the lower basin of the Kafue River is a demonstration project, designed to show that the rowing community has "united to take action on the global freshwater issues that threaten our planet."

Billed as an "extraordinary multi-purpose facility on the Kafue for world-class water management research and the sport of rowing," the Kafue Centre is designed to fulfill dual roles: "Freshwater researchers from around the world will use the Centre to conduct research, study problems, find solutions, and share their results; and Zambia will have a high quality Centre to develop the sport of rowing."

The choice of the Kafue river site is neither random nor accidental; a quick look at the Kafue river basin reveals what an enormous part the waterway plays in all facets of life along its banks. The Kafue river watershed is home to a wetlands area with extraordinary biodiversity, but, as with all bodies of water, there are many stakeholders invested in the river and its water.

As a major tributary for Africa's fourth-largest river, the Zambezi, the Kafue impacts Zambia and the surrounding countries. In addition to small-scale and subsistence agriculture, 40% of all drinking water for Zambia's capital Lusaka, 50% of Zambia's hydroelectric power, 60% of the energy used in the production of copper, Zambia's primary export, and 90% of Zambia's sugar crop are all rooted in the Kafue river basin. It's also the closest rowable water to Lusaka.

The project will house rowing and water research projects (image credit: FISA)
The project will house rowing and water research projects (image credit: FISA)

As part of the push to generate awareness for this ambitious project, FISA is sponsoring a unique contest: every entrant into the contest who makes a donation (by September 7th, 2015) of at least CHF 10 to support the Kafue River project will be entered into a contest to win a 1st prize of Two round trip air tickets to Rio, a hotel room in Copacabana and two tickets to all eight days of rowing at the 2016 Olympic Games, or a 2nd prize of two tickets to all eight days of rowing at the 2016 Olympic Games.

"World Rowing calls on all rowers, former and current, to ensure the Centre can be built, fully-equipped and sustainably operated so that it can achieve its objectives for water research and the development of rowing in Africa. Your support is very important to us!" says FISA. "We hope to have your support for the Kafue River & Rowing Centre, to show the world that when rowers unite behind a project, they are successful!"

The project is a unique opportunity for FISA, to both continue growing rowing in Africa and continue to advance its stated goals of increasing rowings universality, while focusing attention on those water issues that affect rowers around the globe.

Especially on the heels of the much publicized water quality issues during the Junior World Championships at the Rio 2016 venue in Brazil, FISA is pressing the issue.

"The multiple problems faced by water bodies in major cities are faced all over the world - not just in areas of intense urbanisation, industry and tourism but also in more remote, natural areas where all life is entirely dependent on a continuous supply of clean, fresh water," reads the statement released by FISA. "Rio's Olympic Rowing venue - Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - is an example of the former; and the Kafue Flats, an example of the latter. But unless water researchers can study and help find solutions for these water bodies; unless water managers can be trained, then take their expertise to wherever these problems are faced; and unless school children and university students can be taught about the importance of water to our planet – these problems will never be fully understood and resolved."

Click Here to Donate to FISA's Kafue River Project

More information on the FISA Kafue River and Rowing Centre project is contained in the video below.

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