Yesterday, as we had been warned, our 4 hour daily power cuts were doubled, leaving us without electricity for a whole 8 hours. One wonders where this will lead us. With Zambia’s economy already stumbling this is like cutting oxygen to a patient on life support.
We’ve been told the extension of the load shedding is due to a fault at MCL power station, however we’ve had to put up with daily cuts of 4 hours for a long while already and the question is; is it all because water levels are low in the Kariba dam? Or could these crippling power cuts have been prevented by opening up to privatisation, investing in renewable sources like sun and wind, and rooting out corrupt factors in the energy sector?
Hard to say with the lack of transparency, all government is saying is that load shedding is done to avoid having to import electricity, sounds to me they’ve run out of purchasing power too. Wouldn’t you, as a government, want to do everything in your power (pun intended) to keep the production (what little there is) running? And what about the farmers needing irrigation to finish their (wheat) crops? We are already seeing mealiemeal, the staple food, at staggering prices, and this could lead to further shortages and increased prices on bread among other things.
Those are the two first major effected areas that come to mind. But the “side effects” of these power cuts are so many. Nobody is spared, not even hospitals, and public hospitals don’t have money to run generators. Deforestation, already at alarming highs, will further increase as demand for charcoal will skyrocket. People who can afford will buy and run generators for their companies and even domestic needs, these are run by petrol.
Putting more pressure on our environment is the last thing we needed to do now.
We hold our breath and hope for the best, as we sit in candlelight.
Update 03-10-19: we are now on 12 hour daily load shedding and we all just wonder how to move forward at this point.
Google search Kabwe Zambia and you’ll find a lot of reading about the lead pollution, caused by the long closed lead and zinc mine. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage among other serious things and can lead to death. Children playing in the soil in affected areas are at highest risk. However, step in to a hospital right near the worst affected townships and you won’t even find a lead testing kit! A local doctor tells this in the article below:
“It’s hard when you’re not tracking. It’s absent in our documents. It’s just not there.”
And Human rights watch (HRW) tells of how they’ve tried to engage the government for the release of a fresh report but that the government, instead of working together for the betterment of the people of Kabwe, blamed HRW of an “attempt to discredit the government.” Apparently their image is more important than rolling up their sleeves to clean up the mess.
Read full article here: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/08/23/zambia-lead-contamination-imperils-children
And the full 88 page report here: https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/08/23/we-have-be-worried/impact-lead-contamination-childrens-rights-kabwe-zambia
Download it here: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/zambia0819_web.pdf
In the month of may we managed to squeeze in a little mini get-away to Samfya beach that lay on the shores of lake Bangweulu. I’ve got to admit, it was a rather long drive from Kabwe for a two nights stay, but that was all we had time for. As we arrived at night, waking up to see the sunrise over the horizon seemed extra special. Our kids were so excited and amazed and for me, born and raised on an island, it brought a certain feeling that’s hard to describe. You feel like you’ve left Zambia, this landlocked country, and landed by the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Most of our time was spent time just on the sandy beach, we had to be careful though as there was lots of litter, including broken beer bottles in the sand. As it was very windy we didn’t go on a boat tour, that’ll be for another time. Instead the kids enjoyed playing in the waves and sand.
As accommodation options are few and we were not organized for camping we ended up booking in at Chita lodge. It lay on a hill with a beautiful view over the lake. Unfortunately I had read a few negative reviews about Chita lodge and some points are still true, like that you have to wait over an hour for your food and some maintenance is needed despite the fact that it’s fairly new. The staff was however very friendly and it was a good place overall. My children enjoyed the pool and playground area.
Samfya is well worth a visit, there are some new lodges coming up and there’s camping sites offering a cheaper alternative. Just remember that Samfya town has limited options for shopping, think market and little market shops.
This trip really reminded us that there is so much to see and so many remarkable places to visit in Zambia.
I’m not going to write much, just watch the video and she says it all! Goosebumps and tears may follow!