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Wednesday 12 January 2011

Botswana project poses fresh threat to Victoria Falls

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 Chombe River for use
in its interior, a cabinet minister has 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.'
Botswana has notified other southern African countries of its intentions to abstract some 30 cubic metres from the Chombe River where it meets the Zambezi River for a planned irrigation scheme in the Pandamatenga area and for domestic water supply.

The Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo recently told parliament that Zimbabwe was considering Botswana's submission.

He, however, noted 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," said Sipepa-Nkomo. "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."
Remarkably preserved in its natural state, Victoria Falls inspires visitors as much today as it did to David Livingstone in the 1860s. The falls and the surrounding area have been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialisation.

The local people call it 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' - the smoke that thunders.

Presently, Victoria Falls World Heritage Site status is at the centre of huge furore following the construction of a restaurant in the rain forest. The National Parks and Wildlife Authority of Zimbabwe partnered with
Shearwater and constructed a new development within the core zone of the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site.

During the festive season, more than 14 000 tourists visited the Victoria Falls rainforest while major hotels and lodges were fully booked.
Sipepa-Nkomo said Mozambique had also notified Zimbabwe 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.

"This project is an advantage to Zimbabwe because we can import more power from Mozambique," Sipepa-Nkomo said.