It's not dry, it's business as usual.
Earlier this month a story was run throughout various international newspapers that the Victoria falls had dried out to just a trickle. This wasn't an outright lie, but it is quite misleading. The Zambezi river flow does recede drastically throughout this time of year, causing the amount of water going over the falls to be reduced.
The real error is that they blamed it on climate change, using a hot topic and an opportune circumstance to spin and embellish a story.
Local tourism actually uses the fluctuations in river levels in order to offer variations in activities and viewing opportunities. On the Zambian side of the falls, dry season creates an incredible opportunity to swim right up to the lip of the falls, known as Devils pool.
The rise and fall in levels of the Zambezi river and amount of water going over the falls is completely natural. There are some years when it is higher than normal and there are some where it is lower than normal.
A picture is worth a thousands words. Victoria falls is over 5,604ft across, pick a small subsection of that and you can pretty much tell any story you want.
There is no doubt that climate change is happening, that we are a direct impact on it, and we must all come together to minimise it and protect the planet.
It's a dam shame.
The real story here is the dam that is scheduled to be built and the catastrophic loss of life and habitat construction will cause.
Building a dam in the gorge downstream of Victoria Falls would bury almost all the natural geological formations, natural habitats of wildlife and cause huge job loss for thousands of local people that rely on the Batoka gorge for their livelyhoods.
Dirty dams, dirty finance
Hydro power is far from clean energy. The Kariba Dam upstream on the Zambezi currently operates at an estimated less than 50% capacity.
It's doesn't stop there, dams cost huge amounts of money, this year the rights to the Bakota gorge dam project were quietly sold off to General Electric and Power China on a Build-Operate-Transfer financing model.
The power generated from a dam in the Unseco world heritage site of the Batoka gorge would likely be sold to South Africa and not benefit the local communities in that area causing no real social or economic improvements for the local communities who should if anyone was to.
It is important to learn from our past, as the developed world works to remove dams and restore the damage to the environment they have caused Dam companies flock to developing or struggling nations to peddle their lies of cheap, clean power.
The World was outraged about “Victoria falls drying up”. The World should be outraged about Bakota gorge being dammed.
For more information on how you can protect the Batoka gorge please visit: Save The Zambezi
For more information on how to support an environmental cause in your area please visit: Patagonia Action Works
Written by Bren Orton, Livingstone, Zambia.
All photos by Dane Jackson / CC: DJ / Send