A hydroelectric dam bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe threatens the lives of 3.5 million people in the southern African region as it is on the verge of collapsing, local newspaper Zambia Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
The wall of Kariba Dam, one of the world’s largest dams measuring 128 meters tall and 579 meters long, has developed weaknesses and may collapse if nothing is done to repair it in the next three years, the report said.
“We are told by engineers that if nothing is done in the next three years, the dam may be swept away,” Felix Nkulukusa, chairperson of an intergovernmental committee mobilizing funds for the repair of the dam, was quoted as saying.
The dam, situated in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi River basin between Zambia and Zimbabwe, needs 250 million U.S. dollars to be repaired and the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the European Union have so far agreed in principle to fund the repair, he said.
“This is of great concern, as an unstable foundation can wash away the dam, a potential catastrophe event for 3.5 million people along the Zambezi River mainly in Mozambique and Malawi,” he added.
In case of the dam swept away, the Cabora Bassa Hydro power plant in Mozambique will be submerged, which may affect 40 percent of electricity generation in the region, he said.
The dam, which controls 40 percent of the total runoff of the Zambezi River, will also have a pushback effect on Zambezi’s major tributary, the Kafue River, which may result in the submersion of Lusaka Province, where the Zambian capital of Lusaka is located, he said.