Defending the Zambezi: Africa's River of Life

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The Zambezi is one of the most heavily dammed rivers in Africa. More than 30 large dams have already been built throughout its basin, at great cost to local people and wildlife. These impacts have been particularly harsh in Mozambique, where Cahora Bassa Dam displaced tens of thousands of people, and severely degraded downstream floodplains and fisheries. Now, the Mozambican government — with Brazil and China’s help — wants to build a large dam, called Mphanda Nkuwa, 60km downstream from Cahora Bassa.

For the foreseeable future, most of its electricity will be exported to South Africa. This is expected to be the first of many more large dams that Mozambique intends to build. Mozambique’s rural poor are in desperate need of electricity – but this power would be exported to South Africa.