The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), a bilateral organisation equally owned by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe, proposes the development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) (hereinafter referred to as the Project). The Project will be situated approximately 47km downstream of the Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River.
As part of the statutory requirements in Zambia and Zimbabwe, before the Project commences, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) must be completed, and environmental authorisation granted for the Project by both the Zambian and Zimbabwean environmental regulatory authorities. In addition to these requirements, as the BGHES requires the support of international lenders, the ESIA specific to this Project will need to be undertaken to align with international good practice guidelines such as the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Standards and International Hydropower Association (IHA) sustainability protocols.
An ESIA was commissioned in mid-2014, by the ZRA with Environmental Resources Management Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd. (ERM) and its local partners (Kaizen Consulting International in Zambia and Black Crystal in Zimbabwe) as the Project Consultants to undertake this work. Prior to the end of 2015, ERM and its team had completed the Scoping Phase of the Project, which entailed extensive stakeholder engagement and the necessary environmental and social baseline studies had been completed in order to inform the content of an ESIA. A Draft ESIA and Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) was prepared and submitted to the ZRA for its review in late 2015.
The ESIA was then placed on hold for numerous technical and commercial reasons; however, discussions held between ERM, the ZRA and the World Bank (the funder of the feasibility studies) resulted in recommencement of the ESIA process for the Project in October 2018. Given the time that has elapsed since baseline data was gathered for the ESIA studies, ERM is in the process of updating various studies, and draft the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). The Draft ESIA will contain a detailed project description, provide the assessment of impacts, and proposed mitigation measures. The Draft ESIA will be released for a 30 day comment period, during which time ERM will host a number of feedback meetings to discuss the findings of all environmental and social studies, and allow stakeholders opportunity to ask further questions and provide comment on the Draft ESIA.
Following the disclosure of the Draft ESIA, the report will be finalized and all comments received, together with a response from the project team, will be submitted to environmental authorities in Zambia and Zimbabwe (ZEMA and EMA) for their consideration. To note is that the project cannot progress into the construction phase until such time that the ZEMA and EMA have approved the ESIA.
This website serves to disseminate Project information as it becomes available. If you have any questions, or wish to register as an interested and affected party for any of the EIAs, please contact ERM (South Africa), Felix Chisha (Zambia) or Black Crystal (Zimbabwe), contact details are provided in the right-hand box.
ESIA DISCLOSURE UPDATE – 18 November 2020
On 3rd March 2020, ERM notified stakeholders of the availability of the draft ESIAs for public review and comment, and invited stakeholders to attend ESIA disclosure meetings in Zambia and Zimbabwe, which were proposed to take place during April 2020. In light of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) pandemic, the Authority and ERM made the decision to postpone all public disclosure meetings. This decision was in response to government-mandated travel restrictions and bans on gatherings of more than 100 people, which were imposed within certain southern African countries.
Stakeholders were invited to participate in a webinar where key findings of the ESIA were presented, followed by a Q&A session.
Watch the recording of the webinar held 2 December 2020.
Two focus group discussions were facilitated with a limited number of stakeholders to allow further discussion around the findings of the ESIA.
Watch the BGHES ESIA Water-users/ Tourism Sector Focus Group Discussion 4 December 2020
Watch the BGHES ESIA Special Interest Groups Focus Group Discussion 4 December 2020
Closure of ESIA Comment Period
The ESIA comment period, which has remained open since 3rd March 2020 will be closing on 25th January 2021. Stakeholders are invited to submit all comments on the draft ESIAs to ERM:
Post: Postnet Suite 90, Private Bag X12, Tokai, 7966
Tel: +27 21 681 5400 (South Africa) or +27 11 798 4300 (South Africa) or +263 77 287 6616 (Zimbabwe) or +260 97 4074384 (Zambia)
Your comments will be incorporated into the Project ESIA comments and responses report, which will be included in the final ESIAs submitted to Zimbabwean and the Zambian Environmental Management Agencies (EMA and ZEMA) for consideration. Please ensure that your comments reach ERM on or before 25 January 2021.
Please note - due to the size of some documents they may take time to download
Annex A - Project Terms of Reference
Annex B - Stakeholder Engagement Plan
Annex C - Public Participation Documentation (16.8Mb)
Annex D - Heritage Impact Assessment Methodology
Annex E - Grievance Redress Mechanism
Annex F - Biophysical Baseline Data
Annex G - Baseline Data Collection Methodologies
Annex H - Climate Change Risk Review
Annex I - Reservoir Water Quality Modelling Study
Annex J - Environmental Flow Assessment Specialist Study
Annex K - Economic Assessment Specialist Studies
Annex L - Cultural Heritage Report, Zimbabwe (21Mb)
Annex M - Cultural Heritage Report, Zambia
Annex N - Review of ESIA against WCD and IHA Guidelines & background on the World Commission on Dams (WCD) and International Hydropower Association (IHA)
Annex O - Dam Safety Plan for the BGHES
Annex - P Resettlement Policy Frameworks
Annex - Q Letter from Ministry of Defense
Annex - R Greenhouse Gas Assessment
Annex S - Livelihood Restoration Programmes