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Mozambique: the mphanda nkuwa struggle

FoE Mozambique/Justiça Ambiental (JA!) has been campaigning with communities in the Zambezi River Basin for more than nine years, to address the impacts of the existing Cahora Bassa dam and to stop the construction of the proposed Mphnada Nkuwa dam. For a poor country like Mozambique, where less than 14% of the people have access to electricity, investing over US$2 billion dollars in a project primarily intended to export to energy-hungry South Africa, not only ignores the needs of the country, but forces the poorest of the poor to cover the costs.
Mozambique: the mphanda nkuwa struggle
A Mozambican community concerned about their future.
Mphanda Nkuwa could finalise the destruction of the Zambezi Basin, and with it the livelihoods of its people, 80% of whom are dependent upon agriculture and fishing. The older Cahora Bassa dam already forced thousands to relocate, reduced soil fertility, increased erosion, impacted fisheries and farming, worsened the threat of flooding and malaria, and reduced the availability of safe drinking water.


In 2001 the Mozambican government decided to construct the Mphanda Nkuwa, 70km below the first dam. This could lead to the forced resettlement of at least 1,400 people, and impact 200,000 more downstream. Projected impacts include the further destruction of the delta and its biodiversity, yet more flooding and erosion, and the degradation of subsistence-based flood plain farming. The dam is also being built in a seismically active area. The stage is set to turn so-called ‘development’ into a disaster. Campaigners and communities had managed to delay the dam’s construction but in 2010, the Mozambican government approved its construction, without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and in defiance of Mozambique’s laws.


Friends of the Earth Mozambique and the local communities continue the struggle to avoid this disaster, and create awareness, action, alternatives, and hope.

“Mphanda Nkuwa Dam is not development. It will be built at the cost of Mozambique’s future and at the risk of the Zambezi people. Big foreign corporations will reap the rewards and the people of Zambezi will lose the little that they have. Real development should bring light to the people and security to their lives. If the government wants what is best for Mozambique, the dam should be stopped, and efforts to restore the Zambezi prioritised.” Anabela Lemos, FoE Mozambique/Justic‘a Ambiental (ja!)


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