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Engineering - Essay Example

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Kariba Dam, Central Africa Introduction: Kariba dam is a truly hydroelectric dam and an only truly international water resource project situated in the Zambezi river basin. It was constructed jointly by the governments of two countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe, in the year 1958 and is one of the major producers of power in Southern African region, with a capacity of approximately 1.3 GW…
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Engineering
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Engineering

Download file to see previous pages... Figure 1: Kariba Dam on the Zambezi river: Zambia/ Zimbabwe Source: http://www.internationalrivers.org/es/kariba-dam/kariba-dam?size=_original Furthermore it also offers valuable lessons in the manner in which a project of such huge magnitude was pulled off successfully in those days, considering the situation in the 1950s. Also, the construction of this dam required displacement of a large number of people living in or near by the dam site, thus attracting various social repercussions in the process (Adey, 2009: 116). The various implications of the establishment and implementation of this project are discussed in the following sections. Geological Setting The Kariba Dam is a double curvature arch concrete dam, reinforced with a spillway gate area (Balon & Coche, 1974). The Zambezi river, prior to reaching Lake Kariba, falls into various slot like gorges, which forms the Victoria falls. The drainage basin of the Congo River lies to the north of Zambia. Topographically, a significant portion of the Zambian territory comprises of an elevated plateau with an altitude of approximately 3000 to 4500 feet. There are highlands in the northeast and northwest territories of the country, with the Muchinga Mountains in the northwest having elevations of approximately 5900 feet. The population centres in Zambia are formed of two key areas, i.e. in the capital city of Lusaka and in the copper belt province of north central Zimbabwe, which comprise of rich deposits of copper ore (Stokes, 2009:751). Figure 2: Physical characteristics of Kariba Dam The soil in the Kariba river basin is deep Kalahari sand formation (Bingham, 2000) thus allowing the water to permeate in it quite easily. This is known to be one of the key reasons behind the occurrence / or high incidence of earthquakes in the area. Since the land was filled with excessive weight (i.e. water) the earth below it breaks down due to the added volume, leading the ground to break. There is evidence relating the level of artificially created lakes and seismic activities in the area, leading to increased incidences of earthquakes (Jansen, 1988: 744; Goudie & Alexander, 1997: 40). The dam was initially built with a view to generate hydroelectric power; however, the creation of the same drastically altered the geography of the land including significant changes and alterations to the biodiversity of the neighbouring areas. The Kariba Lake was located in the tropics and was one of the first projects to be built in the region. It was created by damming of the Zambezi River which flowed between the two countries i.e. Zambia and Zimbabwe in the year 1959. The building of this lake was referred to as an audacious engineering feat since it was created by clearing up a large proportion of the lands leading to displacement of thousands of locals (Gray, 2000:69). Major problems encountered The construction of the Kariba dam brought about significant changes in the area, especially the generation of electricity which was the key purpose behind the dam. However, it also led to several problems which are discussed below: Displacement of large number of people: The creation of the dam required displacement of the Tonga tribesmen, who inhabited the area. As many as 75000 tribal people were relocated to other areas during ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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