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.

COVID-19 Update

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Zambezi River Authority (the Authority) and ERM have postponed all public disclosure meetings scheduled to take place between 17 and 22 April 2020. This decision is in response to government-mandated travel restrictions, stay at home orders, and bans on gatherings, which have been imposed in southern African countries.

Given the current level of global uncertainty associated with COVID-19, the Authority and ERM are unable to determine at the present time when these meetings may be reasonably rescheduled. The Authority and ERM will provide adequate notification of rearranged dates, once these have been established.

Please note that the review and comment period for the draft ESIAs will remain open until such time that the Authority and ERM are able to hold the ESIA disclosure meetings, or until further notice is given by the Authority and ERM. Your input remains key in the updating and finalisation of the ESIA studies and stakeholders are encouraged to continue reviewing the draft ESIAs and to submit questions and comments to ERM:


Please note - due to the size of some documents they may take time to download


Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Project Area of Inundation, Staff Villages and Quarries 18Mb

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for Access Roads 12.9 Mb

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for Project Transmission Lines 13.7 Mb


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


Operational Environmental and Social Management Plan (OESMP)

Construction Environmental and Social Management Plan (CESMP) for the Project Area of Inundation, Staff Villages and Quarries

Construction Environmental and Social Management Plan (CESMP) for the Access Roads

Construction Environmental and Social Management Plan (CESMP) for the Transmission Lines