Zambezi action plan draws flak

Published: Saturday 31 March 2007

Mozambique plans to upgrade an existing dam construction plan to avoid repeats of the flooding from the Zambezi river which has devastated the country in recent weeks.

In the first phase, it will expedite construction of the Mpanda Nkhuwa dam, budgeted at us $2.3 billion, 70 km downstream from the Cabora Bassa hydroelectric dam in the Tete province.

According to energy minister Salvador Namburete, the dam aims to help control the flow of floodwaters discharged from the Cabora Bassa dam during rainy season. It will also improve irrigation in the region and produce an estimated 1,300 mw of electricity.

Environmental groups, however, have opposed the decision, saying the dam will displace thousands of people and inundate farmlands. Estimates show that the Mpanda Nkhuwa dam will submerge more than 100 sq km of arable land.Besides, the Zambezi, which flows through six countries, is already overburdened by large dams, including the massive Kariba dam and a power station at Victoria Falls. Further dam construction could worsen the situation.

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