Botswana project poses threat to Victoria Falls
by OARABILE MOSIKARE
(The Botswana Gazette)
Botswana has apparently notified other Southern African countries of its intentions to extract some 30 cubic metres from the Chobe River where it meets the Zambezi River for a planned irrigation scheme in the Pandamatenga area for domestic water supply, according to the Standard newspaper in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo is quoted as saying the attractiveness of the mighty Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world, is under threat if Botswana goes ahead with its planned extraction of large volumes of water from Chobe River for the Pandamatenga area.
Sipepa-Nkomo said this would affect foreign currency inflows for both Zimbabwe and Zambia pumped in by tourists who throng the falls annually to witness the "smoke that thunders."
Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo reportedly told Parliament Zimbabwe was considering Botswana's submission.
However, he noted that the project might have serious repercussions on Victoria Falls, the largest curtain of water in the world, which is 1 708 metres wide. "They have notified us because the Zamcom (Zambezi Watercourse Commission) agreement requires them to do that and we are now considering their submissions," he said.
"Though more studies may be necessary, it looks like 30 cubic metres is a lot of water which might deprive the attractiveness of the Victoria Falls."
Victoria Falls, which is still preserved in its natural state, continues to attract tourists as more than 14, 000 tourists were recorded during the festive season.
The falls and the surrounding area has been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialization, the paper wrote.
The Minister said Mozambique had also notified Zimbabwean authorities of its intention to construct Mphanda Nkuwa Dam which is set to generate some 2275MW of electricity for the country.
The dam site, which is on the Zambezi River, lies between Cabora Bassa dam and the City of Tete in Mozambique. Unlike the Botswana project the Minister gave the Mozambique dam project thumbs up.
"This project is an advantage to Zimbabwe because we can import more power from Mozambique," Sipepa-Nkomo said.