The much awaited $5 Billion dollar Hydropower joint project between Zimbabwe and Zambia is still on hold, after UNESCO revealed that it has not yet approved it to commence due to the environmental threats which it poses to the Batoka Gorge in Victoria Falls.
The development comes after the Chief Executive Officer of the Zambezi River Authority was quoted in various news publications saying UNESCO had given a greenlight for the project to go ahead.
New developments reveal that UNESCO has not approved the project. The organization said it still stands with the report it issued in 2022 after they conducted a survey which showed that the project will flood 4 of the 8 Gorges downstream of the Victoria Falls, which is a World Heritage Site.
“This decision taken by the committee raises several concerns including the inevitable negative impacts on the Batoka Gorge.
The decision in its entirety as well as a report following inspectors’ site visitation last year, call for a revision of the planned dam’s environmental and social effect assessment. Four of the site’s eight gorges will flood, according to the February 2022 analysis, which also suggested that the project should not proceed as currently proposed,” UNESCO said.
In an article by Business Insider yesterday, it was revealed that Munyaradzi Munodawafa the Chief Executive Officer of the Zambezi River Authority stated the conservative board for World Heritage Sites had cleared the construction of the hydropower project south of the river.
“Unesco sent inspectors in 2022 after complaints by some environmentalists that the Batoka project was going to affect Victoria Falls. They looked at the reports and our presentations and agreed that Batoka could go ahead at a World Heritage Committee meeting last month,” said Muondawafa.