HARARE, May 5 — A delegation from Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has left for Europe to attend conferences in France and Italy on dam management ahead of the exercise to rehabilitate the country’s Kariba Dam.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are expected to raise close to 250 million US Dollars to rehabilitate the dam, which is believed to have developed structural defects to prevent it from collapse. According to engineers, the dam’s plunge pool, which was originally 10 metres deep, is now 81 meters deep due to erosion from falling water and the increased depth is now threatening the dam wall.

ZRA Public Relations and Communications Manager Elizabeth Karonga said in a statement that the delegation, comprising ZRA board members from Zimbabwe and Zambia, left on Sunday and would return on May 11 after holding meetings on the performance of the Kariba Dam and attending a conference on flood warning systems and flood management plans in the event of dam failure.

“Following the concerns on the safety of the Kariba Dam, the ZRA Board is studying the operations of some of the dam operators whuch have undergone similar experiences,” said Karonga.

“The ZRA Board undertakes study tours to various dam management sites to observe and share best practices in dam construction, maintenance of same and flood management in order to formulate policies for better management of the Kariba Dam and the development of future dams like the Batoka.

“This experience will be used to strengthen the current Kariba Dam Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) and look at how France has legislated their emergency preparedness plans.”

She said the conference would use the Bimont Dam in France as a case study because of its emergency management system which was developed based on lessons learnt from the failure of the Malpasset Dam which is 100 km upstream.

Karonga said the ZRA Board was expected to revise its EPP policy to incorporate findings of the study tour for immediate implementation. The designers of the Kariba Dam, Tractabel Engineering of France, arranged the trip.

Zimbabwe and Zambia largely rely on hydro-electric power from Kariba Dam while Cabora Bassa downstream on the Zambezi River rin Mozambique supplies 40 per cent of the power demands in the Southern African Region.

The Kariba Dam supplies 1,319 megawatts (MW) of electricity to parts of both Zambia and Zimbabwe.