For decades, stunning views from the Victoria Falls on the edge of southern Africa's Zambezi River have drawn millions of visitors to Zimbabwe and Zambia. People come to see a half-mile of falls where water crashes to rocks 330 feet below.
But now the southern Africa’s worst drought in a century has slowed the waterfalls to a trick. Fears about the region's tourist business, however, are overflowing.
David Samalambo works in a tourist market. He remarks it is normal for the falls to diminish during the dry season. And scientists say there are always seasonal variations in water levels.
“But this season it started as early as June. So, this is one of the longest dry seasons we've ever had here at the Victoria Falls."
Data from the Zambezi River Authority shows water flow at its lowest since 1995, and well under the long term average. Long stretches of the half-mile-long natural wonder are currently nothing but dry stone.
Locals are hoping the falls start to flow again soon. They rely heavily on tourist trade passing through.
Salalambo says, "The business isn’t as good as it used to be. So we just hope that this season we are going to have good rains and then we are going to have a lot of people here at the Victoria Falls."
Waterfall worries are about more than just tourism, though. The drought has also caused power cuts across Zimbabwe and Zambia. The two countries depend on hydropower (electricity generated by flowing water turning turbines) from plants at the Kariba Dam, which is upstream of the waterfalls. As well, with taps running dry, some 45 million people are in need of food aid amid widespread crop failures.
In Zimbabwe, people know that Victoria Falls will roar again. Some know that it is because it is God who always “. . . covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.” (Psalm 147:8)