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Southern Africa’s biggest dam sparks environmental concerns

The planned Mphanda Nkuwa dam in Mozambique threatens communities with the loss of ecosystems and damage to floodplain productivity, green groups say.

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The planned Mphanda Nkuwa dam in Mozambique threatens communities with the loss of ecosystems and damage to floodplain productivity, green groups say.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:29 am

Some 1,400 families could be displaced by the Mphanda Nkuwa dam hydropower project due to be built across the river Zambezi, in Mozambique, according to a report in Climate Home News.

The website says that another 200,000 people could be affected downstream, with the irreversible loss of local ecosystems in the Zambezi delta and damage to the productivity of the floodplains.

The government has touted the 1.5GW Mphanda Nkuwa dam – Southern Africa’s largest – as essential if Mozambique is to address energy poverty and reach its goal of universal energy access by 2030.

Much of the energy generated by the dam will be consumed in Mozambique’s capital Maputo, which is 1,500 kilometres away from the project site. 

[See more: TotalEnergies is restarting its LNG project in Mozambique]

The dam will be built in the lower part of the Zambezi river basin, 60 kilometres downstream from the existing giant hydropower plant at Cahora Bassa in Tete province, Climate Home News says.

Commissioning is planned to start in 2031 at a cost of US$ 4.5 billion, with financing from the World Bank through the International Finance Corporation and African Development Bank. 

Local people told Climate Home News they had not been consulted on the project and had only heard about it through non-official sources.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:29 am

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