Falling water levels at the Kariba Dam are forcing even greater electricity shortages in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The dam, the largest in the world, usually produces 1,080 megawatts for Zambia and 1,050 for Zimbabwe but both countries are now limited to less than 400 megawatts. “[T]he drying up of the Kariba reservoir has devastating consequences not only for electricity generation and regional water security, but also because it undercuts traditional strategies in Zambia and Zimbabwe for adapting to climate variability,” Harry Verhoeven, a senior research scholar at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy, wrote in December.
In Zimbabwe, power is on as little as five hours per day and blackouts have doubled from six to 12 hours in Zambia. The low water levels have also devastated local tourism as well as fishing especially for kapenta, a key source of affordable protein. (Kariba Dam: Washington Post $, Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Drought)