Nairobi, Dec 18 – WWF has voiced concern over a decision by the Tanzanian government to proceed with the construction of a hydro-electricity power dam in the Selous National Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“WWF is deeply concerned by the decision of the governments of Tanzania and Egypt to sign a contract for the construction of Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower dam in the Selous Game Reserve before a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment is done as required by Tanzanian law, Aslihan Tumer, WWF’s Head of Global Campaigns, said in a statement.

“The Selous holds the potential to be a major driver of sustainable development in Tanzania, giving long-term benefits to both its economy and people.”

A WWF-commissioned research on the Stiegler’s Gorge project strongly indicated that construction of the dam would have far-reaching negative impacts on the Selous and beyond.

Its construction could damage the wetland of international importance known as the Rufiji-Mafia-Kilwa Marine Ramsar Site and negatively impact the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people who live downstream.

WWF said that Tanzania should explore other sources of renewable energy, including wind, solar and geothermal.

“There is great potential to develop a range of sustainable renewable power sources that will diversify the energy mix and increase Tanzania’s energy security. WWF urges the Egyptian and Tanzanian governments to ensure existing legal processes are followed and alternative power generating schemes are examined thoroughly before going ahead with a damaging project,” the statement added.