Climate change: Sight of Victoria Falls cut to a trickle is heartbreaking

It's a heart-breaking sight in some places - and yet the magnificence of this geological natural wonder is no less awe-inspiring.

As a child I came here many times.

I was brought up in Kitwe in the Copper Mining Belt and I remember on holidays scampering over Knife Edge Bridge with my sister, feeling like I was running through a full-on shower and getting thoroughly soaked.

The spray and mist was so strong we couldn't see the end of the narrow 420 foot-long bridgeway.

The roar of the water storming over the edge was enormous. You had to shout to be heard.

It's said, at its height, you could hear the sound of the falls from 12 kilometres away.

It's not called Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) for nothing.

But the crashing noise and wet all added to the excitement and adrenalin we felt as children, being in the shadow of one of the truly great natural wonders of the world.

We fell in love with it there and then. I returned with my own family many years later and my four children felt the same marvel looking at the world's longest curtain of falling water and they too fell in love with the place.

I told them, if I could, I would come every single weekend until the end of my life to feast my eyes on the magical Victoria Falls.

So, I was shocked to my core seeing it so dry. And terribly sad too. Of course, there are seasonal periods where the falls have always dried up in sections.

But an extended drought in this region has meant a dramatic drop in water levels in the Zambezi River and today, right now, it seems a fraction of its magnificent self.

The huge chasm which divides Zambia and Zimbabwe is running to a trickle in places and water levels have dropped to their lowest in 25 years.

The falls are a source of national pride in Zambia and Zimbabwe - fiercely protected and defended.

And people in both countries are angry, and it has to be said, it seems to me a little frightened - not just at what many perceive to be the mismanagement of the drought emergency; the endemic corruption in both countries (which has meant less money used to combat the effects of climate change) but also at the international spotlight being thrown on the falls.

Tourism is already down 40% in Zambia.

They don't want to dissuade any more tourists from avoiding the area.

"Look at the Grand Canyon," Rodney Sikumba, from the Livingstone Tourist Association told me. "That's still a spectacular sight. So is our Victoria Falls. We want people to come. And there are so many other activities to do throughout Zambia too. We have the Big Five; we have bungee jumping; we have other waterfalls."

It's true: there are many other places to visit and explore in Zambia.

But avoiding the Victoria Falls would be like going to Rome and avoiding the Colosseum, or travelling to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, or visiting China and by-passing the Great Wall.

You wouldn't do it. And you shouldn't do it.

Even now, at its lowest, it's still an incredible visual feast, staggering in its size, magnificent in its natural energy and beauty.

It still has the power to take your breath away, even now at its weakest and most depleted in a quarter of a century.

The rains have been delayed and they are praying for several months of downpour in order to replenish stocks.

The Kariba Reservoir which straddles the Zambezi River and provides power to both countries is operating at only 11% capacity right now.

That's meant a dramatic impact on almost everything that Zambia does.

Mining, agriculture and tourism: their top three money-generators have all been hit.

The rains will come, sooner or later, and by early next year, the falls will, nature dependant, be back to its former glory.

But the extreme and changing weather patterns around the world are having an impact - and developing countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe are at the "coalface" and feeling the effects most.

Sitting down in the State House in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, and talking to President Edgar Lungu, he made it clear, it's less well-off countries like his own which are least able to afford its consequences.

The president stressed he felt it was incumbent on those countries generating much of the world's pollution to accept some responsibility for its clean-up too - being felt most keenly by those countries with the least money.

But he accepted too that his own country and his own government had a duty to do more too.

"We haven't done enough preparation as a country and we are paying the price for that," he told us.

Around two million people in Zambia are estimated to be hungry and needing food assistance because of the drought.

The president's critics insist he's using climate change to divert attention from his government's failure to tackle the drought adequately; the misappropriation of public funds; the complaints about widespread corruption; and his desire to remain in power beyond the 2021 election.

Whatever the veracity of these arguments, there are many complex contributory factors which have led to the water crisis. Zambia's unhealthy dependency on hydropower must surely be one of them.

The country's near total dependence on hydropower (it provides 80% of the country's electricity) means there is an undue strain on the ever-dwindling water supplies.

That affects electricity, businesses, mining, and every day surviving.

But temperatures are going up and water levels have been going down incrementally over the past few years and that means countries the world over would be wise to try to mitigate some of the climate change impact.

President Lungu told us: "Climate change is real. Its effects are slowly destroying mankind and we have to address it. Do we want to pass on the Zambezi without the mighty Victoria Falls? Do we want to do that? Is that what we want for future generations? There are practices and measures we can take now."

He is, of course, right.

The Victoria Falls are still one of the most beautiful sights you will ever be lucky enough to gaze on in your life.

It is truly bucket list material. And by trekking to Zambia or Zimbabwe to enjoy its splendour, tourists will be putting more money in the coffers so they can do more to save and protect this spectacular vision.

Given the chance, I'd still be going there every weekend to feast my eyes on it.

We can only hope the political leaders meeting in Madrid at the COP25 come up with a potent action plan for the future so these treasures are protected.