The Victoria Falls is an iconic waterfall on the Zambezi River, in Southern Africa, at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Lozi, it is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "The Smoke That Thunders".
Based on its combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft) which result in the world's largest sheet of falling water, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest waterfall in the world. It is twice the height of Niagara Falls in North America and more than twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls in Canada. Yet, this majestic waterfall is in jeopardy due to climate change.
According to Elisha Moyo, Principal Climate Change Researcher at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Climate and Tourism, the average flow over the falls in 2019 is down by almost 50%. Moyo is Zimbabwe's lead climate scientist, and he has been monitoring the water levels in the falls. Speaking to Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur, Moyo said, "The low falls are becoming more frequent... Who knows maybe one year there will be no falls completely, no water."
The amount of water flowing in the falls peaks from January to March, and is usually low around this time of year, especially on the Zambian side. However, while water levels are expected to be low, the falls are not expected to be dry either. African Travel and Tourism Association chairman Ross Kennedy said of the situation, "Traditionally, Victoria Falls is at its driest at this time of year, and often before the rainy season begins, the Zambian side does come close to drying up, with just a small amount of water flowing over in some places. This is simply because the falls are slightly lower on the Zimbabwean side. However, due to exceptionally low rainfall in the catchment area during the last rainy season, the water level is at its lowest since 1996. The water levels will continue to drop as usual until the rains start in the catchment area north of Victoria Falls."
Southern Africa has been affected by late rains and extended dry periods due to climate change, and Zambia and Zimbabwe are among the Southern African countries currently experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity due to these conditions. The crisis has affected more than 11 million people, a number estimated to rise to 45 million in the next six months across the SADC bloc.
The falls are a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is a major tourist attraction in the area and the river is a life source to many fish, wildlife, and vegetation.