The gradual extinction of a world wonder?

Victoria Falls, one of the world’s seven wonders, is in danger of drying up.
Victoria Falls, a world wonder, is slowly succumbing to drought

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls, is in danger of drying up completely amidst the global climate change crisis.

This year, the average flow of water over Victoria Falls is said to have shrunk by nearly fifty per cent. The volume of water that usually passes over the falls is about 2000 cubic metres of water, but the average flow of water in 2019 was about 1200 cubic metres.

Victoria Falls, located near the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, usually runs low on water during the annual dry season in the region which lasts from May to November, but this year the drought hit heavy, causing water flow to reduce to what has been the lowest recorded in 25 years.

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This sad development has also affected local farms, power supply and tourism figures in the region. There have been frequent power cuts in Zambia and Zimbabwe, who rely on hydropower from plants in the Kariba Dam, which lies upstream of Victoria Falls.

Described by UNESCO as the largest curtain of water in the world, Victoria Falls is designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site and is a major tourist attraction for Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means “the smoke that thunders” in the indigenous Lozi language. The long period of drought in both countries has not only left over 5 million children in need of food aid, but is also threatening the livelihoods of local farmers, and could ultimately cripple the tourism industries in both countries. 

Zambian President Edgar Lungu had in October 2019 expressed his fears over the situation, stating that unless urgent action is taken to tackle the climate crisis, Victoria Falls could one day dry up and disappear entirely.  

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“These pictures of Victoria Falls are a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment and our livelihood,” he wrote at the time. “It is with no doubt that developing countries like Zambia are the most impacted by climate change and the least able to afford its consequences.”

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