Tag Archive for 'Gibe III dam'

Omo River, Lake Turkana at Risk from Dams and Plantations

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Dams and irrigated plantations being built in Ethiopia will bring major changes to the flow of the Lower Omo River, which in turn will harm ecosystem functions and local livelihoods all the way to the river’s terminus at Lake Turkana in Kenya. More dams are planned for the basin that would compound the damages.

Here we outline some of the basic changes that can be expected as a result of these developments, and include resources on where to get more information.

Fast Facts

  • The Gibe III reservoir is expected to start filling at the beginning of the next Kiremt rainy season (approximately May 2014); filling the reservoir will take up to three years. During this time, the river’s yearly flow will drop as much as 70%.
  • The Gibe III will provide stable flows year-round that will enable the growth of large commercial agricultural plantations in the Lower Omo. The Kuraz sugar plantation and additional areas identified for cultivation could eventually take almost half of the Omo River inflow to Lake Turkana.
  • These projects will cause a decrease in river flow and the size, length, and number of floods, which will be disastrous for downstream users. This is the first year in which runoff from the Kiremt season, which is vital for flood-recession agriculture, restoration of grazing areas, and fisheries production, will be almost completely blocked.”

Read more: International Rivers


 

Chinese loans could fuel regional conflict in East Africa

Photo retrieved from: www.chinadialogue.net

“China has made great efforts to support poverty reduction in Africa, and likes to present itself as a friend of the African people. But loans for contentious dam and irrigation projects now threaten to pull China into an explosive regional conflict between well-armed groups in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The Lower Omo Valley in south-west Ethiopia and Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya are marked by a harsh climate and unique, fragile ecosystems. They are home to 12 indigenous peoples, one of the largest remaining wildlife migrations, and some of the earliest remains of the human species.

The region is currently being transformed by one of Africa’s biggest and most controversial infrastructure ventures. Once completed, the Gibe III hydropower project will dam the Omo River to generate electricity with a capacity of 1,870 megawatts. It will also allow the irrigation of 2,450 square kilometres of sugar plantations, which are currently being developed on indigenous lands and in national parks.”

Read more: China Dialogue

Goldman Prize for Kenyan River Activist Ikal Angelei

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Ikal Angelei, the founder of Friends of Lake Turkana in Kenya, receives the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco today. The award will honor an activist who is defending the interests of 500,000 poor indigenous people against a destructive hydropower dam, and has successfully taken on many of the world’s biggest dam builders and financiers.

Ikal Angelei grew up on the shores of Lake Turkana, the world’s biggest desert lake. This lifeline of Northwestern Kenya is under threat from the giant Gibe III Dam, currently under construction on the lake’s main water source, the Omo River in Ethiopia. When she learned about this threat, Ikal founded Friends of Lake Turkana with a few friends in 2007. Working together with partners around the world, she started an international campaign to stop the mega-dam which threatens her people’s livelihoods.”

Read more: International Rivers

Ethiopia’s plantations are killing vital waterway

Photo retrieved from: www.survivalinternational.org

“The Omo River downstream from the notorious Gibe III dam is now being diverted into a newly-dug irrigation canal, one of several which will feed a massively ambitious plantations scheme for state and private investors.

These manmade canals are key to Ethiopia’s plantations plan, which is already having a hugely negative impact on UNESCO’s Lower Omo World Heritage site.

The government has revealed virtually nothing about the plantations program, but an official map obtained by Survival shows the enormous scope of the project.

One local person, speaking to a Survival researcher who recently visited the area, said,” ‘I’ve never seen the river this low. During the dry season, like it is now, you can usually cross by foot, and water reaches your knees. Now I could cross without my feet getting wet.’

Read more: Survival International

Ethiopia Pursues Controversial Dam Project

Photo retrieved from: www.ethiopiaforums.com

“The government embarked on the project – expected to be the largest hydropower plant in Africa – to help solve a national energy crisis and to help turn Ethiopia’s economy around.

“The rural population will get electricity, the amount of megawatts we are going to produce is for all the population. It is not only for industry or towns it is for all nation,” Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia’s energy and water minister, told Al Jazeera.

Foundations have already been laid at the Gibe III dam, in Oromia in western Ethiopia. When completed, the dam’s 243-metre high wall will be the tallest of its kind in the world.

“Once finished, the electricity generated at this one dam will be enough to double Ethiopia’s power capacity, and there are other dams under construction,” Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reported from the dam site.”

“The plan is for electricity to become Ethiopia’s biggest export.”

Read more: Aljazeera

Ethiopia dam project rides roughshod over heritage of local tribespeople

Photo retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk

“Thousands of semi-nomadic tribespeople are being forcibly moved from their traditional lands in southern Ethiopia to make way for European and Indian sugar cane and biofuel plantations, according to testimonies collected by Survival International researchers.

Agricultural developments along the Omo river valley have accompanied the building of the 243-metre-high Gibe III dam, expected to be Ethiopia’s largest investment project and Africa‘s largest hydropower plant. But allegations of human rights abuses have marred both the dam’s construction and the creation of a 140-mile-long reservoir intended to provide water for irrigation of industrial-scale plantations.

“Clearance of people and bush has started in earnest in the Omo Valley and violence against tribal people by the military, and tribal resistance, is increasing”, says a Survival researcher who has just returned to London from the region.”

“The tribes have been told the plan is to resettle them, and that this will happen by the end of 2012. These people are among the most self-sufficient in a country where famine and hunger are prevalent.”

Read more: Guardian

Ethiopia’s tribes cry for help

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“Violent clashes between the Ethiopian army and tribes from the region are on the rise. A local human rights worker told me of their fears of an escalation in the crisis to civil war. “Many tribes are saying they will fight back rather than be moved off their traditional lands to make way for these plantations. They are living in fear but feel they have nothing to lose by fighting back.”

Roadblocks are now in place in many parts of the Lower Omo Valley, limiting accessibility and ensuring the relocations remain out of the spotlight. Tribal rights NGO Survival International is leading calls for a freeze on plantation building and for a halt to the evictions. They have been campaigning to draw more attention to the deteriorating situation in the region since the Ethiopian government announced plans for the Gib III Dam [PDF] – Africa’s tallest, and one that is scheduled for completion later this year.

When completed, it threatens to destroy a fragile environment and the livelihoods of the tribes, which are closely linked to the river and its annual flood. Up to 500,000 people – including tribes in neighbouring Kenya – rely on the waters and adjacent lands of the Omo River and Lake Turkana, most of which lies in Kenya. The Karo people, now estimated to number just 1,500 along the eastern banks of the Omo River, face extinction. Already suffering from dwindling fish stocks as a result of the dam, the reduced river levels have also harmed their crop yields.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

Ethiopia – government crackdown in Omo region intensifies

Retrieved from: www.survivalinternational.org

“Survival has received disturbing reports of a crackdown on tribal people opposed to Ethiopia’s program to remove them from their lands in the Omo region and force them to resettle in villages.

The authorities have organized community meetings to inform people of their controversial plans to lease out tribal lands to state and private companies for conversion into large-scale sugar cane, cotton and biofuels plantations.

After one such meeting, a group of Bodi and Chirim tribal people were shown where they are to be resettled. However, after seeing the place, they refused to be moved. The government responded by calling on the security forces to attend a follow-up meeting. When they still refused to move, four young men were rounded up and jailed.

Some Bodi felt so intimidated that they said the government could take the land for sugar, because they ‘could see that death was very near for them if they said no.’

Members of the Suri tribe have also been arrested in the town of Tum for opposing a plantation run by a Malaysian company, which has swallowed a large part of their land where they graze their cattle.

Many Suri say the arrests are a show of force, to intimidate them into not opposing the plantation. ‘We lived there in peace, in the heart of Suri land, the place where all of the Suri cattle were grazing during both the rainy and dry seasons. Now, in this place there is a plantation, owned by a rich Malaysian company.’ said one young Suri man.

‘The Malaysian investors and the government trained 130 soldiers who were given 130 machine guns. If Suri become aggressive towards the farms the soldiers are to kill Suri men, our sons,’ said a Suri woman.”

Read more: Survival

 

How the Global 1% Shape the World’s Development Agenda

G20 party. Retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“The infrastructure sector is a key example for the G20’s powerful role behind the scenes. The group has commissioned a high-level panel of experts to prepare recommendations on future infrastructure investment in Southern countries. This panel brings together 17 leading representatives of large corporations, banks and government agencies. Civil society groups and trade unions are absent from its roster. The panel has just submitted its recommendations to the G20’s heads of state, who will convene for their annual meeting in Cannes/France next week. The new report illustrates what is wrong with delegating extensive powers to an exclusive body like the G20:

  • Public interest ignored: In its early announcements, the high-level panel narrowly focused on the promotion of economic growth, at the exclusion of poverty reduction, environmental protection, and human rights. In its new report, the panel will recommend six criteria according to which the World Bank and other funders should prioritize their future projects. As the Boell Foundation reports, these criteria include issues such as regional integration and attractiveness for the private sector. They are silent on poverty reduction, protection of the environment and even climate change.
  • Big is beautiful: The high-level panel was asked to identify a number of projects which exemplify the new approach to infrastructure development. Early on, this list included a transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya and the Inga hydropower scheme on the Congo River. The transmission line will depend on the completion of the controversial Gibe III Dam on the Omo River, which violates numerous international agreements and will impoverish up to 500,000 indigenous people. The Inga dams will cost billions of dollars and will generate electricity for aluminum smelters and far-away urban centers, but will ignore the needs of Africa’s rural poor. The first two stages of the hydropower scheme have turned out to be white elephants and monuments of corruption. Scientists have warnedthat the proposed new dams may have “truly alarming” impacts on the capacity of the Atlantic Ocean to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”

Read more: International Rivers

 

How a Big Dam Fuels Landgrabs, Hunger and Conflict in Ethiopia

Hydro dam site at Omo river, Ethiopia

Photo retrieved from: guardian.co.uk

“The Gibe III Dam, which is currently under construction, will disrupt the river’s annual flood cycle and lower the water levels of Lake Turkana. Critics have long feared that once the dam is built, the Ethiopian government will establish plantations in the Omo Valley and use the regulated water flow to irrigate export crops. The government dismissed such fears as baseless, and argued that the dam would not reduce the amount of water in the Omo River and Lake Turkana.

“Now that the dam is being built, the government is showing its true colors. An official map of the Lower Omo Valley delineates three blocks of land with a total of 245,000 hectares (close to 1,000 square miles) that will be turned into sugar plantations, to be managed by a state-owned sugar company. A briefing paper by the Oakland Institute, a research and advocacy organization, suggests that in addition, 11 smaller concessions have been awarded for private cotton plantations.

“Growing thirsty crops such as sugar cane and cotton for the world market does not make sense in a region that is scarce in water and prone to hunger and resource conflicts. The dam and the associated land grabs will turn the Gibe III hydropower project into a social and environmental disaster on several accounts:”

Read more: Huffington Post