Tanzania’s President John Magufuli’s signature project — the $3 billion Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower plant — is still attracting opposition from conservationists even as the government prepares to implement it.
Lobbies are warning that the project may impact the livelihoods of the people and mangroves in the Rufiji Delta.
Wetlands International a global not-for-profit organisation conserving mangroves in the Rufiji Delta, has expressed concern that the project will impact the livelihood of the people although mangroves may not be affected by the decrease of water flow downstream.
Julie Mulonga, Wetlands International executive director for East Africa, said that while the project cannot be stopped now, the government needs to change some structures so that the flow of water to the mangroves won’t be affected.
Ms Mulonga was addressing concerns from stakeholders who convened for a National Mangrove Stakeholders Workshop in Dar es Salaam last week.
The government’s 2025 Energy Vision in the Tanzania Power System Master Plan Tanzania has vowed to go ahead with the Stiegler’s Gorge project which is to be constructed within the Selous Game Reserve — a World Heritage Site.
Ms Mulonga said apart from a strategic impact assessment that gave the project a clean bill of health, Wetlands will conduct another study that will quantify the risks associated with the project and monetise the loss before they propose alternative ways to undertake the project.
According to WWF, there are wider impacts beyond the physical inundation of 1,200kmsq of land.
“There will be increased erosion downstream, there is a potential to dry out lakes that are important for wildlife tourism, reduced fertility of farmland downstream and the retreating of the Rufiji Delta,” WWF said.