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 IRN’s Epupa Campaign

Himba Women in Epupa Falls Area  
Himba Women
in Epupa Falls Area
The Kunene River is one of just five perennial rivers in arid Namibia, and is considered a precious resource by those who live near it. The river has long supported the semi–nomadic Himba people, who are one of Africa’s most successful remaining pastoralist peoples. The government of Namibia has long intended to build a huge hydroelectric scheme on the Kunene; this highly problematic project would devastate the Himba and the river’s ecosystem. Currently, the dam is on hold, but as IRN has learned time and again, large dams – even the most ill-conceived and destructive projects – have a way of rising from the ashes. Today, Namibia is looking to develop its natural gas fields (construction on the Kudu project is expected to begin in 2006). But with a looming energy shortage and a desire to be less dependent on South Africa (which currently supplies half the nation’s electricity), large dams such as Epupa, Popa Falls, and even faraway Grand Inga (on the Congo River) continue to be included in official energy planning documents.

Maps of the area

See a larger map of the affected area

Political map
Geographical map

Epupa Dam’s reservoir would evaporate twice as much water as the entire country uses each year – a major issue in a country that continually suffers from drought and water shortages. Climate change is likely to heighten the risks of hydroelectricity for the driest parts of Africa, a fact Namibia’s government recognizes (“The magnitude and reliability of power supply from [hydroelectric] projects will be impacted by climate change to a degree that is currently poorly quantified,” states a 2002 government report on climate change), yet it is still considering large dams. If built, Epupa will flood 250 square miles of land inhabited by the Himba people and affect thousands of people. The reservoir would flood ancestral graveyards as well as critical dry–season grazing lands for which no suitable replacement land exists. The Himba believe that building the dam will destroy their livelihoods and culture, and have said they do not want the dam on their lands.

  latest additions  
Namibia and Angola Eye Reviving Dam on Kunene River
The Namibian newspaper reported on Aug. 17, 2005 that the two governments intend to undertake a study of the smaller Baynes Dam site, 40 km downstream of Epupa Falls.
Epupa Makes Way for Kudu Gas Project
Article from The Nambian.