UNESCO warns Victoria Falls could lose its heritage status


Plans by the governments of Zambia  and Zimbabwe for the development of a golf course, lodges and a hydroelectric dam near the Victoria Falls will put the renowned tourist destination at risk of losing the world heritage site status awarded by UNESCO.

A report composed by officials of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) who visited the site for five days cites the “inconsistency in the use of precise boundaries and buffer zones” with regard to plans by authorities in Lusaka and Harare.

The UNESCO team has also called for a halt to the building of a 300-bed hotel complex on the Zambian side. It also comes after the Zimbabwean government announced plans to intensify efforts to lure investors by developing infratructure with the end goal of achieving city status.

Featuring unique rock structures, Victoria Falls is the world’s largest sheet of falling water. It earned its world heritage site status in 1989.

A lack of full transparency about ambitious projects on either side of the Zambezi river which feeds the falls is fuelling local rumours of corruption, the paper adds.