News / Africa

Giant Ethiopian Dam Said to Threaten Indigenous Groups

TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Onyiego

A coalition of international human rights and environmental groups have launched a campaign to halt construction of dam they argue will disrupt natural flood cycles and seriously impact the lives of more than 200,000 indigenous people.  The dam is expected to produce 1,800 megawatts of electricity, nearly doubling the current output in the Horn of African country.

International human rights groups, including British-based Survival International, that fight for the rights of indigenous people, say the construction of the Gibe III Dam in southwestern Ethiopia threatens the livelihood of eight distinct tribes in the surrounding area.

Indigenous tribes rely upon the fertile silt deposits left by seasonal flooding for the cultivation of subsistence crops in the semi-arid Omo Valley.  A U.S.-based environmental group, International Rivers, says the dam on the Omo River will impact people who fish the waters for survival.

The $1.7 billion project is expected to create a lake nearly 150 kilometers long and could possibly affect the flow of water as far as Lake Turkana in neighboring Kenya.

Survival International says the people in the Omo Valley have not been informed about the project and remain largely ignorant of the effect it could have on their lives.  A human-rights campaigner for Survival International, Elizabeth Hunter, calls the project "disastrous."

"You are talking about an environment that is already very fragile," she said. "Overnight, they are going to lose a very valuable part of their livelihood, which they need to survive.  So, you are really looking at people who are going to become refugees on their own land dependent on government food aid."

The dam construction, which began in 2006, has not yet been fully funded, and the Ethiopian government is courting potential sources of funding including the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank.  The coalition opposed to the dam's construction is urging these organizations not to fund the project.

The Ethiopian government maintains the Gibe III project is necessary for the country.  At nearly 240 meters, the dam will be the tallest on the African continent and is expected to produce enough electricity to meet Ethiopia's growing demand.  The government argues that adverse effects on the local environment and population will be minimal and short-term.

Ethiopia's largely rural population has little access to electricity.  Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, also experiences frequent blackouts.  An estimated 80 to 90 percent of Ethiopia's electricity comes from hydroelectric power, and the country is planning to build several more dams to harness this abundant resource.  If the dams are built, Ethiopia expects to become an exporter of electricity.

The Gibe III is being built by an Italian company that built the smaller Gibe II Dam, a project that came under scrutiny in January when part of the dam collapsed just 10 days after it began operations.  

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid