The Cunene (Portuguese spelling) or Kunene (common Namibian spelling)[a] is a river in Southern Africa. It flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia. It then flows west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the few perennial rivers in the region. It is about 1,050 kilometres (652 mi) long, with a drainage basin 106,560 square kilometres (41,143 sq mi) in area. Its mean annual discharge is 174 m3/s (6,145 cfs) at its mouth. The Epupa Falls lie on the river. Olushandja Dam dams a tributary of the river, the Etaka, and helps provide the Ruacana Power Station with water.
Cunene(Kunene) River near Epupa Falls
Course of the Kunene (Cunene) River, parts in Angola highlighted in blue
|⁃ location||Angolan Highlands|
|0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||1,050 km (650 mi)|
|Basin size||106,560 km2 (41,140 sq mi)|
|⁃ average||174 m3/s (6,100 cu ft/s)|
The Namibian government proposed in the late 90's to build the Epupa Dam, a controversial hydroelectric dam on the Cunene. In 2012 the Governments of Namibia and Angola announced plans to jointly build the Orokawe dam in the Baynes Mountains. According to the indigenous Himba who would have been most affected by the construction of the dam, the dam threatens the local ecosystem and therefore the economic basis of the Himba. During February 2012, traditional Himba chiefs issued a declaration to the African Union and to the United Nations Human Rights Council of the United Nations, titled "Declaration of the most affected Ovahimba, Ovatwa, Ovatjimba and Ovazemba against the Orokawe Dam in the Baynes Mountains," which outlines the fierce objections against the dam from the traditional Himba chiefs and communities that reside near the Kunene River.
On November 23, 2012, hundreds of Himba and Zemba from Omuhonga and Epupa region protested in Okanguati against Namibia's plans to construct a dam in the Kunene River in the Baynes Mountains, against increasing mining operations on their traditional land and human rights violations against them.
On March 25, 2013, over a thousand Himba and Zemba people marched in Opuwo to protest again against Namibia's plans to build the Orokawe dam in the Baynes Mountains at the Cunene River without consulting with the indigenous peoples that do not consent to the construction plans.
Tourists frequent campsites or lodges in Epupa which offer water sports on the river including rafting and canoeing. There are ancient baobab trees alongside the gorge, and there is an attractive and well-kept viewpoint high above the village and falls, but both are spoiled by broken bottles and abundant garbage.
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- Nakayama 2003, p. 9.
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- C. Michael Hogan (2012). "Kunene River". In P. Saundry; C. Cleveland (eds.). Encyclopedia of Earth. Washington DC.: National Council for Science and the Environment.
- F. C. de Moor; H. M. Barber-James; A. D. Harrison; C. R. Lugo-Ortiz (2000). "The macroinvertebrates of the Cunene River from the Ruacana Falls to the river mouth and assessment of the conservation status of the river". African Journal of Aquatic Science. 25 (1).
- Nakayama, Mikiyasu (2003). International Waters in Southern Africa. United Nations University Press. ISBN 92-808-1077-4. Google eBook.