‘State of rivers’ looks bleak as Africa plans colossal dam

2014-08-28 18:06


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - International Rivers has launched an online database showing how dams are impoverishing the health of the world’s river basins, as Africa gears up for the construction of the world’s biggest dam.

“The database shows how river fragmentation due to decades of dam-building is highly correlated with poor water quality and low biodiversity,” an International Rivers statement says.

“The evidence we’ve compiled of planetary-scale impacts from river change is strong enough to warrant a major international focus on understanding the thresholds for ‘river change’ in the world’s major basins,” said Jason Rainey, Executive Director of International Rivers.

The State of the World’s Rivers website was created using Google Earth and maps nearly 6 000 dams in the world's 50 major river basins, and ranks their ecological health according to indicators of river fragmentation, water quality and biodiversity.

The Congo River has recently been earmarked to power the world's biggest hydroelectric dam.

SA to buy half of the power

Earlier in August South Africa approved the ratification of the Grand Inga Treaty with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sapa reports that according to the treaty SA will buy over half of the power generated by the world’s biggest hydroelectric dam which aims to generate 40 000 megawatt (MW) of power on the Congo River.

South Africa’s main energy provider, Eskom, services 45% of the electricity needs in Africa and has a generation capacity of 41 194MW.

Negative impacts

In a special focus International Rivers has highlighted the potential negative impacts of the dam which is set go into the construction phase by October 2015 and will take five to six years to complete:

- Based on the history of the Congolese government there are high risks of corrupt deals and cost escalations.

- Ecological impacts including nutrient and sediment trapping.

- Diversion of the Congo River could flood the Bundi Valley, affecting agricultural lands and natural environments.

- Reduced flow in the Cong River may cause loss of biodiversity and a shift in dominant species.

- Transmission lines will result is huge forest corridors being cleared.

The World Bank together with the African Development Bank has approved a combined sum of $106m to fund technical studies to analyse the dam's environmental and social impact and ensure it is sustainable.

But International Rivers policy director, Peter Bosshard, told Reuters that the proposed Inga 3 dam will fail to reduce energy poverty and protect the environment in the DRC.

The group has called on the World Bank to fund smaller, more local energy projects which it says will be less destructive to the environment, according to the Reuters report.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.