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ZEMA approves Western Power’s Sioma hydro project

THE Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has approved an environmental and social impact assessment report for a hydropower project in Sioma, Western Province.

Western Power Company (WPC) had applied to ZEMA for the report to enable the company set up a power project in Sioma district.

WPC is a Zambian independent power producer developing the Ngonye Falls Hydroelectric Project on the Zambezi River near Sioma.

According to a statement from the WPC, the project envisages a-180 megawatt run-of-river hydropower scheme generating approximately 830 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity per year that will be supplied to the Zambian national grid.

WPC stated that the environmental and social impact assessment report (ESIA), which has been ongoing since 2013, includes comprehensive data from baseline surveys on climate, flora and fauna, as well as a study of land use and population in the project area.

The report also includes consultations with local communities and relevant stakeholders and was conducted in compliance with Zambian environmental regulations and the International Finance Corporation (IFC’s) performance standards.

WPC added that baseline studies of the environment included geology, topography, and soils; climate and water resources – including hydrology, water quality and sediments.

The company stated that baseline biodiversity studies covered aquatic and terrestrial ecology. Socioeconomic baseline studies were conducted on population and demography including vulnerable groups, settlement and land tenure, livelihoods, and social networks.

WPC said matters of community health and safety were addressed and the ESIA collaborated with the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) with respect to the tourism, conservation, and heritage impact of the project.

It further stated that the ESIA also covered assessments relating to landscape and visual amenity.

“The project has developed an Environmental and Social Management and Monitoring Plan (ESMMP) which covers all aspects of environmental and social impact management, mitigation, monitoring and reporting during the construction of the project and throughout its operational life,” read the statement. “WPC would like to thank ZEMA for their expert guidance throughout the ESIA process. Western Power also wishes to thank the community surrounding the Ngonye Falls site, the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and all the other stakeholders who have provided their support and assistance to the project as we reach this significant milestone in the development.”

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