On December 10, 2019, the waterfall was a trickle, not a cascade. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

The Victoria Falls region, one of the greatest waterfalls in the world and among the most tourist attractions in Africa, is exposed to the worst drought in a century, which increases the fears of climate change.

For decades Victoria Falls, where southern Africa’s Zambezi river cascades down 100 meters into a gash in the earth, have drawn millions of holidaymakers to Zimbabwe and Zambia for their stunning views.

Victoria Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world compared to Niagara Falls in North America, and its width and depth is twice the width and depth of Niagara.

The width of the Victoria Falls is estimated at more than 1700 meters, while its maximum height is 108 meters, and the average annual waterfall is estimated at more than 934 cubic meters per second, but the worst drought in a century slowed the abundance of the waterfalls significantly, which increased fears Climate change could destroy one of the region’s biggest tourist attractions.

While the waterfall usually slows during the dry season, officials said this year has caused an unprecedented drop in water levels.

A combination photo of water flowing down Victoria Falls (top) and during the current drought. Photograph: Reuters
A combination photo of water flowing down Victoria Falls (top) and during the current drought. Photograph: Reuters

As reported by The Guardian Dominic Nyambe said “In previous years, when the dry season came, the water level was not going down that far,” a tourist handicraft salesman, outside his store in Livingston on the Zambian side of the waterfalls, noting that this is the first time the river dries to this way.

Nyambe added: “It affects us because … clients … can see on the Internet the level of retreat in the waterfalls … We do not have many tourists,”

Because of the low levels of water and rain in the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe and Zambia have suffered blackouts because they rely heavily on hydroelectric power from stations in the Kariba Dam, which is located on the river at the highest waterfalls.

Data from the Zambezi River Authority show water flow to its lowest level since 1995, well below average in the long run, described by Zambian President Edgar Lungu as “a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment”.

Tourists can see on the internet, that the falls are low. Photograph: Reuters
Tourists can see on the internet, that the falls are low. Photograph: Reuters

However, scientists warn against blaming categorically climate change, noting that there is always a seasonal variation in levels.

Commenting on this change in the waterfalls, the hydrologist at the engineering firm Poyry and an expert on the Zambezi River Harald Kling said that climate science has handled for decades, not for certain years, “so it is sometimes difficult to say because of climate change because drought always happens.. if it becomes more frequent, so you can start saying that the cause is climate change. “

Richard Beilfuss, president of the International Crane Bird Foundation, who has studied the Zambezi over the past three decades, believes that climate change is delaying monsoons, which leads to heavy rainfall at certain times, so that it is difficult to store, and consequently results in a much longer dry season than Other seasons.

Stretches of this kilometer-long natural wonder are nothing but dry stone. Water flow is low in others. As world leaders gather in Madrid for the COP25 climate change conference to discuss ways to halt catastrophic warming caused by human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, southern Africa is already suffering some of its worst effects – with taps running dry and about 45 million people in need of food aid amid crop failures.

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Yasser Alahwal - 50 posts

Experienced Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Analytical Skills, Microsoft Word, Sales, and Team Building. Strong media and communication professional with a Bachelor's degree focused in Media from Damascus University.


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