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Kariba Dam

The Kariba Dam is a hydroelectric dam in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi River basin in Southern Africa (28.74778 E and 16.51222 S). A double curvature concrete arch dam it was constructed between 1955 and 1959 at a cost of $135m for the first stage with only the Kariba South power cavern. Final construction and the additon of the Kariba North Power cavern was not completed until 1977 due to largely political problems for a total cost of $480m. Around 100 workers were killed during construction.

It is one of the largest dams in the world at 128 m high and 579 m long. The Kariba supplies 1320MW of electricity to parts of both Zambia (the Copperbelt) and Zimbabwe (6400GWh per annum). Kariba Lake , the reservoir created by the dam, extends for 280 km with a storage capacity of 180km&sup3.

The creation of the reservoir forced resettlement of about 57,000 people living along the Zambezi. In 1960-61, 'Operation Noah' captured and removed around 6,000 large animals and numerous small ones threatened by the lake's rising waters.

Since its construction and filling in the early 1960s, Kariba has caused numerous earthquakes in the area, 20 of them in excess of magnitude 5 on the Richter scale. Engineers and seismologists are still uncertain as to the reason for these effects but the effects of 180bn tonnes of water cannot be avoided. More on this can be read in a report entitled Reservoir-Induced Earthquakes and Engineering Policy .

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Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55