Legacy of Dams on the Zambezi: Group Works to Right Wrongs at Kariba Dam

The Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River is one of Africa’s largest dams, and one with a particularly sorry legacy for those forced to make way for it. Just miles from the huge reservoir in the Zambezi Valley live several tribes who are among the poorest, most remote and least developed in the country. Their predicament is largely attributed to their forced removal from their riverside communities in the late 1950s for the construction of Kariba. For almost 50 years, they have lived in isolation and with few significant development initiatives. At least 57,000 Tonga people living along both side

Darkness in the Lesotho Highlands - Promises for Power Go Unfulfilled

Tuesday, October 31, 2000
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a massive, multi–dam scheme built to divert water from Lesotho’s Maloti Mountains to South Africa’s industrial Gauteng Province. The first phase of the project involved the construction of two large dams, Katse and Muela, which dispossessed 20,000 rural farmers of assets (ranging from fields to grazing lands) and livelihoods. In an effort to prevent the permanent impoverishment of these people, the governments of South Africa and Lesotho promised in the LHWP Treaty that affected people "will be enabled to maintain a standard of living not inf

World Bank Approves India Dam Against Wishes of Local People

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
On October 12, the World Bank’s executive board approved a $45 million loan from their private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), for a controversial hydropower project in the Indian Himalayas. The loan was approved despite the launching of an investigation into the project by the IFC’s ombudsman. Local people and Indian non–governmental organizations had called for the project to be delayed until numerous grievances and irregularities are resolved. "We are afraid that with the dam in place, we will not have enough drinking water and that there will be too little wa

Le Grand Inga n’est–il qu’une grande illusion?

Thursday, March 31, 2005
Des plans grandioses sont en cours de conception pour développer le plus grand projet d’énergie hydraulique dans l’une des régions d’Afrique les plus corrompues et politiquement instables. En Février, Reuel Khoza, le Président de la compagnie d’électricité sud africaine Eskom, a annoncé des plans de développement de grande envergure du projet d’énergie hydraulique du Grand Inga, dans la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC). "L’Afrique a un besoin urgent d’énergie pour sortir son peuple de la pauvreté et fournir un développement durable. La rivière

Grand Inga, Grand Illusions?

Friday, April 1, 2005
World Rivers Review, V20 N2, p. 6-7 Grandiose plans are being made to develop the world’s largest hydropower project in one of the most politically volatile and corruption–plagued areas of Africa. In February, Reuel Khoza, the chairman of South Africa–based electricity provider Eskom, announced plans to develop the massive Grand Inga hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). "Africa urgently needs energy to lift its people out of poverty and deliver sustainable development. The Congo River offers enormous opportunities for doing this," declared Khoza. I

Dissent Grows Over Senegal River Valley Dams

Sunday, February 1, 1998
World Rivers Review: Volume 13, Number 1 This past September, an official think-tank called Le Groupe de Réflexion Stratég ique (Strategic Planning Group) publicly released a report critical of the large dam projects in the Senegal River Valley. The group's report prompted a local farmers' group to demand the re-establishment of natural river flooding upon which their agricultural systems depend and which the dams had effectively ended. As described in a story in the October 1997 issue of World Rivers Review, the Manantali and Diama Dams have done serious harm to local fishin

Eskom’s Expanding Empire - The Social and Ecological Footprint of Africa’s Largest Power Utility

Eskom Enterprises in Africa
Sunday, June 1, 2003
With a generating capacity of more than 40,000 MW, South Africa–based Eskom is Africa’s largest energy utility, and ranks as one of the top five energy utilities in the world. Eskom is a de facto monopoly in South Africa, and also generates over half the electricity produced in the whole of Africa, with operations in 31 countries on the continent. Because of its heavy reliance on coal, it is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa. Eskom management has also stated that it intends to rely increasingly on nuclear power. And in recent years, Eskom has begun to

Manantali Dam Changes Will Make a Bad Situation Worse

Wednesday, October 1, 1997
World Rivers Review: Volume 12, Number 5 The Manantali Dam in Africa's Senegal River Valley is a "poster child" of bad dams. When it was built in the 1980s, it put an end to 1,000 years of successful flood-recession farming; created major economic impacts for downstream farmers, fishers and herders; harmed fisheries, ground water resources and riverine forests, and turned an area with a low incidence of water-borne disease into one of the worst-infected in Africa. Besides all the problems it caused, it also failed to provide promised benefits. The conversion from flood-r

Big Dams: Bringing Poverty, Not Power to Africa

Electricity passes over a village resettled for Kariba Dam, Zimbabwe
Large hydro dams do not "lift all boats"—in fact, they increase the gap between energy haves and have-nots. Electricity passes over a village resettled for Kariba Dam, Zimbabwe Karin Retief Africa’s large dams (more than 1,270 at last count) have consistently been built at the expense of rural communities, who have been forced to sacrifice their lands and livelihoods to them yet have reaped few benefits. Large hydro dams in Sudan, Senegal, Kenya, Zambia/Zimbabwe and Ghana have brought considerable social, environmental and economic damage to Africa, and have left a trail of "developmen

Turning the WCD into Action in South Africa

Participants in a Meeting to Launch a National WCD Process in Uganda
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Four years ago, the 12 commissioners of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) concluded their three–year effort to analyze the world’s record of dams and development by stating: "We have told our story. What happens now is up to you." A group of dedicated South Africans boldly accepted this challenge. Representing varied interests on dams, they have been working together for nearly four years to incorporate the WCD’s findings into South African national policies and laws. Nearly 100 delegates representing government, the private sector, NGOs, affected communities, utilities and others came


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