For immediate release
Varese, 18 June 2015

- Launch of the Kafue River & Rowing Centre project in Zambia

- World first for international sport

- Olympic and World Champion Ambassadors leading campaign

- Rowers all over the World raising funds for the project

#onwaterforwater social media campaign

FISA, the World Rowing Federation, today announced a world first for international sport with the launch of the Kafue River & Rowing Centre project, a unique collaboration between the World Rowing community and WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature, to take action on the global freshwater issues that threaten the planet.

In 2011, World Rowing and WWF began an alliance to use rowing to educate and raise awareness about the challenges to freshwater. The connection was obvious. WWF has long worked to protect freshwater ecosystems around the world, and rowing depends on water, so the rowing community naturally understands and completely supports the clean water movement.

Now the partnership is going one step further. The two organisations have identified a freshwater habitat which is under intense pressure from competing industrial and agricultural claims and a hydro-power generation system - the lower basin of the Kafue river in Zambia, Africa. The Kafue river is part of the economic centre of Zambia as well as being an important wetland with iconic wildlife. It is a major tributary of the Zambezi river powering the region’s industry, irrigating its agriculture, nourishing its wetlands and supplying its drinking water.

The new Kafue River & Rowing Centre will be a unique multi-purpose centre which brings together conservation, education and sport. It will be equipped with world class field research facilities with links to water science universities around the world and provide Zambia with a high quality centre to develop the sport of rowing.

"We believe that it is possible for wildlife and freshwater conservation to co-exist with sustainable economic development in one area and we want to make the Kafue River & Rowing Centre a showcase for the world", says Bart Geenen, WWF Senior Water Expert.

“The competing claims on the water of the Kafue river are a microcosm of what is happening in many parts of the world. The region is experiencing a conflict in demands from the population's need for clean water, to the demands from industry and the needs of the wetlands and wildlife to be able to survive in a healthy ecosystem. The lessons we can learn from studying this eco-system and interacting with all stakeholders will be valuable for use in Kafue and all around the world.”

"World Rowing and WWF know that the preserving freshwater is a huge global challenge, and we believe that rowers can make a difference by supporting this research centre," says Jean-Christophe Rolland, President of FISA, the World Rowing Federation.  "The Kafue River & Rowing Centre is an ambitious initiative that we take as seriously as our rowing. I am extremely proud to be part of this project and believe that rowers from all over the world will unite to make this project a success and make a significant contribution to the research that will improve the world’s water quality. At the same time, we can use this Centre to help develop our sport in this region; it will provide a resident facility for the nearby schools and universities, as well as rowers from universities around the world who can conduct their water research."

World Rowing today launched a new microsite at www.worldrowing.com, supported by the #onwaterforwater social media campaign which calls on the world rowing community to get involved and donate to the fund for the Kafue River & Rowing Centre.

Olympic and World Champion rowers from around the world have volunteered to be Ambassadors for the project and are giving their time to support the project and recruit others to get involved. These Ambassadors include:

  • Andrew Triggs Hodge (GBR), double Olympic gold medallist and four time World Champion
  • Kim Crow (AUS), Australia’s top female sculler, Olympic medallist and World Champion.

Each Ambassador has recorded a short, personal video calling on his or her rowing community to get involved, pledge a donation and recruit others to support the cause and follow the development of the Centre.

Visit the Kafue River & Rowing Centre page at www.worldrowing.com or www.wwf.panda.org to learn more.  

Because to help the Kafue is to help the world

For more information: http://www.worldrowing.com/environment/kafue-river-rowing-centre