Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Nangbeto Reservoir

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A feasibility study in the 1960s identified the Nangbéto region as the best location for hydroelectric power development in Togo. The site - 160 km upstream from the coast – is the only place where a dam of sufficient volume to regulate the flow of the Mono River was possible. As demand for electricity grew, the decision was made in the 1980s to proceed with the Nangbéto Hydroelectric Dam.

Satellite images from 1986 and 2001 show the region before and after the dam's construction. The completed dam created a reservoir with a surface area of approximately 180 km2 and a volume of 1 465 million m3. In addition to generating electricity for domestic and commercial use, the dam also provides water for agricultural irrigation and is a source of commercial fishing and tourism. However, these benefits have been offset by environmental costs.

Construction of the dam, creation of the reservoir, and installation of transmission lines resulted in the loss of nearly 150 km2 of savannahs and gallery forests that provided habitat for rare local fauna. The reservoir submerged 1 285 households and 5 500 hectares of agricultural land. Loss of the natural vegetation in the region has altered the climate enough to have had a negative impact on nearly 350 hectares of banana plantations. The creation of the reservoir has also increased the population of two species of aquatic snails that serve as intermediate hosts of the parasite that causes the disease bilharzia.
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