With the stringent effects of weather conditions, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has blamed climate change for falling water levels at the world’s biggest man-made reservoir, which has curtailed power generation and caused 19-hour daily power cuts.
Kariba, 174-mile long Lake is at its lowest level since its 420-foot-high dam wall was completed six decades ago, with the aim of powering the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a short-lived union of modern day Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Yet significantly more water is flowing down the Zambezi River, which fills the reservoir, than a year ago and volumes are keeping pace with the long-term average.
Therefore, it is believed that If the lake falls any further, the turbines ability to generate 2,130 megawatts could completely grind to a halt. And that won’t be due to lower rainfall as the Zimbabwean leader said in a December column of a state-controlled newspaper.
Rather, it is believed, the crisis, which also saw Zambia announce 12-hour blackouts this week, is the result of the inability of two countries to cooperate over a jointly-owned asset.
For instance, in November, Zimbabwe was told by a regulator that it had used up its annual water allocation for electricity generation. Both nations have drained more water as they expanded the size of their power plants over the last decade.
The recurring crisis at Kariba raises questions over the viability of plans for an even bigger, $4.5 billion, hydropower facility further upstream.
That is as in 2015, former Zambian Vice President, Guy Scott, dismissed claims that drought was causing lower water levels. He told parliaments that the nations were behaving like two puppies hurriedly slurping milk from the same bowl, worried that the world would take their share.Now, there is nothing left.