In a major boost for communities and wildlife in the Luangwa valley, the Zambian government has halted plans to construct a mega hydropower dam across the river – safeguarding the diverse benefits it provides to people and nature.
One of the longest free flowing rivers in southern Africa, the 1,100 km Luangwa is a lifeline for communities and two of the most iconic national parks on the African continent. Along with providing 25 chiefdoms with water, food and livelihoods, the Luangwa supports a wealth of wildlife, including over 400 species of birds and the only refuge for reintroduced black rhinos in Zambia as well as elephants, lions, hippos, leopards, African wild dogs, and the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe.
Constructing a hydropower dam at Ndevu Gorge would have fragmented the Luangwa, threatening the future of the area’s wildlife as well as the freshwater fish stocks, agriculture and tourism that communities depend on.
After lengthy consultations, the Zambian government has now cancelled the pre-feasibility study, ending existing plans to build a dam on the Luangwa. “Keeping the Luangwa river free flowing is the best decision for both people and nature, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commends the government for halting the dam and instead seeking lower impact, renewable alternatives to power Zambia’s development,” said Nachilala Nkombo, WWF Zambia Country Director.