On the 24th of January before dawn, the communities of Chococoma and Chirodzi N’sanangue, in the province of Tete, woke up to the fury of the waters from the Zambezi River. According to the testimonies of the communities, and the evidence found
at the site, the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric dam (HCB) had opened its floodgates without any warning that would have allowed them to protect themselves and their belongings. At least 51 families in these two communities have lost their machambas (vegetable fields), probably many more. Fisherfolk lost their fishing nets and even some boats.
If HCB really opened its floodgates without having the decency to warn people who live downstream, this is a huge irresponsibility to say the least.
What will happen to these families that have lost their livelihoods? During last year’s rainy season, 2020, there was a similar incident and several families lost their fields. Until when will this irresponsibility and impunity last?
Before HCB was “ours”, unannounced releases were blamed on the Portuguese, who did not care for the people. And now, what’s the excuse?
For those who still have the illusion that mega dams protect us from floods, may the recurrent examples from HCB serve as a lesson. Mega dams, in order to produce hydroelectric energy and be profitable, have to store as much water as possible. Therefore, when it rains upstream of the dam site, instead of making small discharges so as to not accumulate too much water, they only think about profit, and keep the floodgates closed. When the water becomes really too much, they are forced to make urgent discharges, and often without notice.
Everyone needs energy, but we can no longer cover our eyes in front of these and so many other impacts of mega dams – directly related to their intrinsic characteristics, the objectives for which they are built, and the priorities of those who manage them.
There are enough alternatives to mega dams to abandon them once and for all. Clean, safe, decentralized, and community-owned energy solutions not only have the potential to solve the country’s energy poverty, but are also solutions to many of the other crises we face today – climate, inequality, unemployment, democracy. Irresponsibility and impunity must end, peoples’ needs must be above profit!
Dear managers of the HCB dam, the Mozambican State, other shareholders, it is your responsibility to investigate this case in detail and compensate the communities for the damages caused by your irresponsible discharges and without sufficient and prior notice!
JA! will continue to do everything in our power so that communities are compensated for what they have lost. The videos and photos that follow are testimonies of the disgrace and injustice that these communities have been suffering.
The struggle continues to protect the Zambezi River, the riverine people and important ecosystems.
NO more dams in the Zambezi! NO to Mphanda Nkuwa! #MphandaNkuwaNao