Protecting and restoring rivers and fish migration in Africa

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Kieren Bremner

Publication Date:

The economic benefit and viability of dams has long been the topic of controversy. While many countries have begun to realise both the economic and ecological benefit of removing dams, Africa remains at the forefront of proposed dam constructions. The provision of electric power, flood control, water supply, and reservoir creation are attractive motivators for dams in third world countries such as those dominating the African continent, where the lack of electricity and sporadic water supply due to intermittent rainfall patterns remain as key social concerns. However, no dam is the same and thus, efforts to generalise from a few continues to cause controversy and debate. Dam removal decisions are complex, requiring owners and regulators to weigh a dam’s current value in accomplishing its original purpose, such as water supply for agriculture or industries and power generation, against the dam’s ongoing effects on public safety, water quality, water quantity to the downstream resources, impacts to fish migration and populations, etc. In rural Africa, the social implications of dam removals are considered less straightforward, as communities have been observed to adapt their lifestyles based on the continuous provision of a water supply and year-round food security many dams provide. In the presentation we will consider the evaluation of the practicality of dam removal in the context of long-term maintenance costs, against the costs of removal including several of the social considerations once communities have become reliant on the relatively short-term benefits of these structures.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration