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Although Africa’s great rivers are considered "under-dammed" by global standards, the continent’s large dams have consistently been built at the expense of rural communities. Africa’s dams have done considerable social, environmental and economic damage, often with complete disregard for the human rights of dam-affected communities, and have left a trail of "development-induced poverty" in their wake. Sadly, these projects have not led to progress in electrifying the huge proportion of Africans now without electricity.

In addition, climate change is expected to increase extremes of drought and flooding, with the result that Africa’s already highly variable climate and hydrology will be even more difficult to predict, making hydropower even more risky and water resources even more precious. Despite the failure of large dams to meet Africa's most pressing needs, many more dams are on the drawing boards, including the world's largest – the Grand Inga scheme, proposed for the Congo River.

Across Africa, grassroots activists are showing how dam projects overlook the social, economic and environmental costs of these projects, and pressing for better alternatives. With our partners, International Rivers strives to promote sound energy and water developments based on social justice, equitable sharing of benefits and costs, and environmental sustainability; and river-development planning processes that ensure participation by local communities in decisions that affect their lives. Please explore these pages for more information about the work going to protect Africa's rivers and those who depend upon them.



Bujagali Dam Seriously Flawed, Say African Bank Inspectors

Damming Nigeria’s Wetlands People: Communities Work Together to Restore Lives And Livelihoods

Interview: Basilwizi Trust, Zimbabwe

China’s Environmental Footprint in Africa

Scramble to Dam the Congo Keeps Africans in the Dark


Lori Pottinger
lori [at] internationalrivers [dot] org
+1 510 848 1155

Terri Hathaway
terri [at] internationalrivers [dot] org
+237 22 02 34 12