Masters Dissertation

Assessing How Social And Ecological Implications of Hydropower Development can be Addressed at Different Levels of the Projects

Assessing how Social and Ecological Implications of Hydropower Development can be Addressed at Different Levels of the Projects; with Reference to CEC Kabompo Hydropower Project


Hydropower projects in the recent past have been a subject of scrutiny from the academic world regarding their ecological and social implications. There has been substantial research in relation to the implications mentioned, most of it focusing on identifying the major impacts but less on minimization measures.

Therefore this study considers addressing the social and ecological implications in hydropower power projects by effectively making use of the environmental and social impact assessments as planning and mitigation measures at the early stages of the project.

The research was strategically designed in a way that the implications were identified, assessed, avoided where necessary, minimized, compensated and included in designing as well as implementation. In order to achieve this, the study was conducted by critically evaluating literature as well as conducting a survey on specialists of hydropower construction projects.

The methodology applied in this research allowed the sponsoring organization, being new to the hydropower construction projects to have a clear insight and a technical knowhow on managing such projects to minimize social and ecological impacts.

The research revealed that with sound policies, monitoring, compliance and participatory decision making during social and environmental impact assessments processes would serve as effective mitigation and planning measures.



Hydropower has been known as a major source of electric energy much needed for industrial and economic growth especially in developing countries. However the construction of hydropower projects has been associated with ecological and social implications. This study will aim at assessing how ecological and social implications of such projects can be minimised by effectively utilising the social and environmental impact assessment as mitigation and planning measure.

The interest of Coppperbelt Energy Corporation Plc. (Client) in considering ecological and social factors as major stakeholders in project delivery necessitated the need to carry out this research, in order to understand how best ecological and social implications can be addressed in hydropower projects. Being the first time to project manage a hydropower construction project the client realised that minimising ecological and social implications of a project is part of good project management practice, this project will undoubtedly present a new approach in managing social and ecological impacts by addressing all relevant issues as well as unforeseen implications throughout the hydropower project life cycle.

1.1.1 Sponsoring Company Background

The Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) Plc. is an electricity utility company located on the Copperbelt province of Zambia formed in 1997 resulting from the privatisation of the Zambia consolidated copper mines (ZCCM). The company‟s‟ main line of business include;

– Supplying of Electric power to the mines

– Transmission of Electric energy (270MW) for Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) and (210MW) Societe Nationale D‟electricite (SNEL) of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

– Telecommunications (carrier of carriers on the Copperbelt province through its optic fibre network)

In order for the company to carry out all the above mentioned business, CEC has the following infrastructure;

– 884km of 220kV and 66kV transmission lines

– 80MW of gas turbine generation

– 40 major substations

– 540km of optic fibre on power lines

As part of its the growth prospects and rising power demands from customers, CEC is currently embarking on the development of a 40MW hydropower engineering procurement and construction project in North western province of Zambia on the Kabompo river with the aim of reducing dependency on their only source the Zambia Electricity supply corporation (ZESCO). The Kabompo hydropower will also be interconnected to the Zambia national grid there by contributing to lessening of the power shortages Zambia is experiencing.

1.2 Project objectives

It is very important to set out achievable and clear project objectives as part of managing a research, in so doing the focus of the study is narrowed down to areas that matter or of concern. Therefore the research being conducted is comprised of seven main objectives listed below;

1. To research existing literature on the perceptions of ecological and social implications resulting from hydropower projects.

2. To assess levels of deforestation acceptable and finding sustainable methods of minimising it to keep the ecosystem balanced during hydropower development.

3. To identify best practices of managing resettlement issues in a project management context in hydropower projects.

4. To produce effective mitigation measures appropriate to address ecological and social implications of hydropower projects.

5. To identify a suitable set of recommendations on how the client can contribute to minimising ecological and social impacts during the hydropower project lifecycle.

6. To send the draft research chapter to the sponsoring organisation so that evaluation can be carried out.

7. To identify areas of future research.

1.3 Limitations

Under the ideal circumstances, a research is expected to be completed within the required time frame. However constraints are likely to be encountered during the research which may delay progress. It is therefore important to conduct a risk analysis at the onset of the project to in order to assess how best to address these limitations. Identified in this project are the following constraint listed below;

– Location of the Client; this is considered a limitation because it may hinder effective communication with client and access to required documents for the research.

– Response time to requested information from the client representative; may delay the progress of the dissertation.

– Limits on access to specific resources; Company policies may not restrict certain valuable information to the research.

– Low Response rate to Questionnaires; may pose as constraint due to non-availability of respondents.

1.4 Structure of the Dissertation

The dissertation will be comprised of eight chapters in total namely Introduction, Literature review, Research methodology, Data presentation and Analysis, Discussion and Findings, Recommendations, Project Evaluation and Conclusion.

The first chapter which is the introduction chapter justifies the reasons for embarking on this research, focussing on the objectives as a means to measure success, the sponsoring organisation, limitations to the research and the composition in the dissertation project.

The Second Chapter being the literature review analyses and reviews critically all relevant literature pertaining to the dissertation project. Peer reviewed journals and case studies are used to assess social and ecological implications resulting from hydropower projects, furthermore measures on how to address the implications are analysed by evaluating both the SIA and EIA.

The third chapter establishes the research methodology used in this research highlighting research objectives, designing of the questionnaires and its administering, selection of the sample size, data collection methods, methods of analysis and setbacks expected encountered.

Chapter four is based on data presentation and analysing from the survey. Descriptive statistics with the aid tables, pie and bar charts are used in representing and interpreting collected data.

The Fifth chapter is a discussion of the analysed data findings from the conducted survey in relation with the literature highlighting results for both social and ecological issues.

Chapter six establishes the recommendations developed from the research intended to advise the client on the subject matter. The structure of the recommendations is arranged in such a way that they define what is being recommended, why it is being recommended and how it can be implemented.

The Seventh Chapter is about the project evaluation. It focuses on critical evaluation of how the set out objectives for the project were met and also a critical evaluation of the client‟s requirements.

The last chapter concludes the dissertation highlighting the project outcomes and a summary of how the project was conducted to achieve the set out objects. The last aspect of this chapter outlines the possible future work and research in relation to this project.

In closing the dissertation project a list of appendix will be attached at the end to highlight all the materials that proved helpful to the dissertation.

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