Growing Concern about Zimbabwe Dam Displacing Local Communities

On September 2, it was reported that local communities surrounding the Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Zimbabwe will be forced to relocate due to increased risk of flooding during the rainy season.  Zimbabwean authorities have so far failed to deliver on a promise of providing either land or money as compensation for those forced to relocate.

The project, contracted to China International Water and Electric Corporation since 2004, has faced a series of setbacks. From 2013 to 2017, work stopped due to insufficient financing. Another stoppage occurred in March 2018 due to irregular river flows, while in October 2018, there were reports of underbudgeting.

The range of problems faced by the construction of the dam points to deficiencies in related feasibility assessments as well as ineffective management of the project once construction began.  The most recent concerns pertaining to the displacement of the local communities risk raising humanitarian and political issues despite recent statements by Chinese officials indicating they would seek to raise the environmental and social standards of overseas infrastructure development.