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The attractiveness of the Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world, is under threat if Botswana goes ahead with its planned extraction of large volumes of water from Chobe River for local consumption.
According to media reports from Zimbabwe, Botswana, a neighbour to both Zambia and Zimbabwe wants to use huge volumes of water to meet the growing demand for the essential commodity in that country.
This would affect foreign currency inflows for both Zimbabwe and Zambia which come from tourists who flock to the falls annually to witness the “smoke that thunders” on both sides.
According to eTurboNews, a global travel industry news source, Botswana has notified other southern African countries of its intentions to abstract some 30 cubic metres from the Chobe River.
The water would be abstracted where Chobe River meets the Zambezi River for a planned irrigation scheme in the Pandamatenga area and for domestic water supply.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo recently told Parliament in that country that Zimbabwe was considering Botswana’s submission.
He, however, noted the project might have serious repercussions on Victoria Falls, the largest curtain of water in the world, which is 1,708 metres wide.
“They have notified us because the Zamcom (Zambezi Watercourse Commission) agreement requires them to do that and we are now considering their submissions.
“Though more studies may be necessary, it looks like 30 cubic metres is a lot of water which might deprive the attractiveness of the Victoria Falls.
“Remarkably preserved in its natural state, Victoria Falls inspires visitors as much today as it did to David Livingstone in the 1860s,” Mr Sipepa-Nkomo was quoted as saying.
During the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly which Zambia and Zimbabwe co-hosted last month, the falls was the centre of attraction for delegates who were mesmerised by it.
The two countries partly owe the falls for their successful joint bid to co-host the event which they won two years ago.