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A Development Communication Perspective on Why Dams Fail: A field study from Zambia
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Hydropower dams have the potential to provide developing countries with the energy they need for meeting their growing demands, however, they usually bring with them many complex issues. International best practices have addressed problems with dams and provided comprehensive guidelines for how the development of dams can become less problematic and more sustainable. However, there seems to be a gap between the visions and what is actually done in practice. This study aimed to provide more knowledge about this gap by applying a development communication perspective on an ongoing hydropower planning process.


To gather empirical material a minor field study was conducted on the planned Batoka Gorge HES in Zambia in the end of 2014. The study used a qualitative method and conducted interviews with stakeholders that were identified as concerned about the project. This included national governmental institutions, local authorities, traditional authorities, local communities, non-governmental organizations, companies, consultants and journalists. Two different analytical frameworks were used to categorize and analyze the empirical findings, namely the seven types of participation and the monologic and dialogic communication models.


The main findings of this study is that, despite national legislations and international guidelines, which put emphasis on stakeholder engagement, the Batoka Gorge HES still did not fully apply a participatory communication mode. Data revealed intents to use a dialogic communication mode as the regulations propose, however, the communication regarding the project was mainly characterized a monologic mode. The study thus provides empirical findings that confirm and demonstrate the gap between theory and practice, and further suggest that additional research in this field is needed. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Sustainable development, Development communication, Participation, Dams, Zambia
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-40153OAI: diva2:788470
Subject / course
Peace and development
Educational program
International Social Sciences Programme, specialization Global Studies, 180 credits
Available from: 2015-02-16 Created: 2015-02-15 Last updated: 2015-02-16Bibliographically approved

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