Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dam construction: President Hichilema Orders Expedited Approval for Dam Construction Nationwide

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File picture: President Hichilema at Kariba Dam

Dam construction is poised to undergo a transformative phase in Zambia as President Hakainde Hichilema issues a decisive directive to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA).

In a decisive move aimed at bolstering Zambia’s water management infrastructure, President Hakainde Hichilema has instructed the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) to promptly greenlight all applications for dam construction across the country.

President Hichilema emphasized the urgency of this directive during the launch of early maize harvesting in the Mkushi Farm Block today. He stressed that ZEMA and WARMA must prioritize the approval of these applications to facilitate the government’s agenda of water harvesting.

While urging the regulators to ensure adherence to environmental regulations in the approval process, President Hichilema highlighted the critical need for water harvesting to enhance irrigation farming, particularly in light of the prevailing drought conditions. He underscored that the country must learn from the current challenges and prioritize water conservation efforts.

The President expressed firm resolve against wasteful water practices, stating that the era of allowing water to flow freely to the Indian Ocean while dams could store it for irrigation and electricity generation is over.

Meanwhile, Stewart Parkes, owner of SADOT Farm, affirmed the commitment of commercial farmers to support emerging farmers in addressing challenges like drought. Parkes emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts in boosting agricultural production.

Jervis Zimba, President of the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), commended farmers for their resilience in the face of adverse weather conditions. He emphasized the need to seize the drought situation as an opportunity to reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

In further efforts to bolster the agricultural sector, Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo announced plans to expand the agricultural credit window. This expansion will encompass funding for irrigation, mechanization, livestock, and aquaculture, aiming to provide comprehensive support to farmers across various sub-sectors.

The directive from President Hichilema aligns with Zambia’s ongoing commitment to sustainable environmental management and underscores the government’s proactive approach to addressing pressing challenges such as water scarcity. With the expedited approval process for dam construction, Zambia aims to enhance its water harvesting capabilities, ultimately contributing to agricultural productivity and national development.

The Impact of Dams on River Ecosystems: Balancing Benefits and Harm

Dams have long been touted as crucial infrastructure for society, providing benefits such as flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power, and recreational opportunities. However, their construction and operation also inflict significant harm on river ecosystems, leading to a complex debate over their overall impact.

While acknowledging the benefits dams bring, it’s essential to recognize the substantial damage they cause to rivers. Here, we delve into the ways dams harm river ecosystems, juxtaposed with their perceived advantages:

1. Blocking Rivers and Hindering Fish Migration:

Dams obstruct the natural flow of rivers, impeding the migration of fish species critical for ecosystem health. Fish passage structures may offer some relief, but they often fall short, particularly for certain fish species facing migration barriers.

2. Slowing River Flows and Disrupting Migration Patterns:

Stagnant reservoir pools created by dams can disorient migrating fish, prolonging their journey and affecting reproduction cycles. Furthermore, irregular water releases, common in hydropower operations, disturb natural flow patterns essential for ecosystem balance.

3. Altering Habitat and Trapping Sediment:

The impoundment of rivers behind dams alters habitat dynamics, trapping sediment and obstructing natural processes vital for ecosystem health. This affects the availability of spawning grounds for fish and alters the composition of riverbeds, impacting overall biodiversity.

4. Impact on Water Quality and Temperature:

Dams contribute to changes in water quality and temperature, with slow-moving reservoirs prone to temperature fluctuations that can harm sensitive species. Additionally, the regulation of water releases can disrupt natural water temperature patterns, leading to adverse effects such as algal blooms and decreased oxygen levels.

While proponents argue for the necessity of large-scale dams for flood control, power generation, and water supply, critics highlight the significant ecological costs associated with these projects. Large dams, in particular, can lead to the displacement of human populations, loss of agricultural lands, and irreversible changes to river ecosystems.

Conversely, smaller-scale water control structures, such as weirs and barrages, offer alternatives with potentially fewer detrimental effects. These local projects provide benefits like flood control, navigation improvement, and water supply without the extensive ecological disruption associated with large dams.

Ultimately, the debate over dams versus alternative water control structures underscores the need for a nuanced approach to water management. While dams offer undeniable benefits, their ecological impacts cannot be ignored. As societies navigate the complexities of water resource management, prioritizing sustainability and minimizing harm to river ecosystems remains paramount.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Day dreaming…..now thinking about doing the impossible just to appease his Lumbani madoda praise singers…..next please lets go to the moon

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    • You also know him kanshi. Great opportunist, if there is loadshedding which he claimed to have ended barely one year in office, that’s the only time he talks about alternative sources of energy, If there’s hunger due to draught, that’s the only time he talks about irrigation.

  2. Will sanity ever prevail in Zambia ?
    Hopefully with the next generation who will think of the future
    and not the present as is the thinking now

  3. Fast forward 2025 March 19th ask HH…have you constructed even 1 dam…..and he will instead present a graph and motivation speech……” look according to the graph we have constructed 90% more dams than PF”…

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  4. Come 2026 there will be zero dams constructed. How many declarations has this man made with no outcome whatsoever. He lost the piece of paper for fuel to be at k5, he can not remember what he said about fertilizer and mealie meal. People are still waiting for 14hrs. You have to be insane to believe what this man says.

  5. Abena John Tushimi. He is very good at queen’s language.But when it comes to pragmatism, there is no output. Speeches which do not yield any tangible results are just an exercise in futility. A good leader should talk less and do more.

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  6. Look at the way those tu ma agent muzungu are looking at him to make sure he delivers their speech. How do you allow yourself to be taken advantage of this way sure. You know that these people are taking the biscuit but instead of playing smart, you do the complete opposite. I think we should make playing with building blocks and lego compulsory in grade 1 mwe. Some heads are hardcoded.

  7. This is a good pronouncement by the president and hope significant resources will be channeled to the water sector. Just like Dr. Edify Hamukale said, Electricity and food security all depend on the hydrological or water cycle. Amalasha tunashe ko bane this is what is causing climate change.

    • We ignore these prophets of doom, they are lunguishing after the holes in the kitty were closed. Sometimes we forget there were people literally sitted at home getting paid for being kateka’s men. Thats history!!!! And they hate the one who closed the holes.

  8. To combat climate change, it needs concerted effort from all stakeholders. This thing if not handled now, will greatly affect generations to come. The president should declare one day, especially in December and January, a holiday specifically for tree planting. Let it be called National Day of Tree Planting. This should start from schools. Schools should have enough land where trees should be planted. It should be a national program which should be participated by all citizens. If it can be done for the next ten years, then our nation will be protected from this climate change.

  9. Environmental Impact Assessments need to be conducted on all the projects before they can be initiated. There should not be political pressure for assessors to do their work

  10. LT you must be given accolades. Your readers broke the dams idea here before HH woke up and realised there’s wisdom being churned out right under his nose. Where is his dozing cabinet? Just turning up at their offices to show off their London-copied suits and ties? Yet receiving our hard-earned taxes for doing nothing?

    • The UPND New Down govt is a reactive bunch of people and wait for events to happen before they can do anything. They are not receptive to advice or strategic ideas. The previous govt had plans to construct dams which they shelved

  11. Coal power plants need to be constructed to use our coal resources. If we are serious we an put 500MW coal electricity within the next 4 years on the grid.

    • Very true. This issue of blindly following developed countries will kill us. They are busy using coal but encouraging poor countries to cut on the use of coal siting climate change. All we should do is concentrate on planting trees and continue using our resources like coal until we are able to handle spend on clean energy.

  12. You cannot rush ZEMA and WARMA. They also have procedures to follow to see what is feasible, due diligence, water sources and the impact it will have down river, objections from the people who may be dependent on some water sources which you want to restrict by building a dam etc etc. Let those statutory bodies mandated to do their jobs carry out their work freely without interference otherwise it will be another forest 27.

  13. The usual crap writers are out in force again.
    The Prsident is a modern farmer who knows what he is talking about, he did become a millionare by through by doing the things he is calling for. Yet you have nonsense comments by peasants.

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