Ethiopia Dam Erodes Local Relations

The air in Ethiopia may catch fire, as plans for a new hydroelectric dam on the Omo River spark tensions in a region with long-lasting conflicts over scarce water. A government project to tame the river’s unpredictable annual cycle has raised the anger and suspicion of local tribes, who rely on Omo’s flooding for their survival, the BBC reports.

According to the Ethiopian government, the Gilgel Gibe III Dam – the second largest dam in sub-Saharan Africa and the third major construction in a series of hydroelectric projects in the Ethiopian region – is being built to regulate flooding in the Omo region. But while authorities say the new dam will not affect the river flow, indigenous communities fear they will lose the precious flood waters that nourish the land traditionally used for farming and grazing.

A group of European, American and East African academics – including ecologist Richard Leakey – have also expressed skepticism regarding aspects of the infrastructure project, saying that the project might trigger a water war among local people. As the tribes have seen their lands emaciate between new national parks and big commercial landholdings, they are prepared to fight over decreasing resources.

But what looks on the surface like a rusty relationship between locals and the bureaucratic machine, really points a situation deteriorating into and beyond paranoia.

“I don’t think the government likes the Omo tribes. They are going to destroy us,” a senior community told The BBC, while another local added, “Let them first bring helicopters to kill us all; then the government can build its dam.”

Read more here, here and here.

Source: The BBC

1 reply
  1. Sisay Tadesse says:

    I am from Ethiopia. We Ethiopian are poor people, to develop we need to work hard. So now we are in that mood. To develop we need to use our natural resources ,actually properly , without using our resources we will be completely dependent on external sources. I think everybody believes that we need energy. Hence, If we are to import energy from foreign, for energy, we will be dependent on that country’s situation like political, and economical stability……..

    So the government is tying generate energy as much as possible utilizing the country’s natural resource. I don’t think you have complain on that. And the point is does it affect the natural balance of the regain to the extent that makes living in the darkness is better? Even at the time of writhing this, I am in the darkroom using laptop bagging my battery till it gos off . So the choice is between stying me and my people living in that area in the darkness or prospering with a little natural unbalance. I don’t think you choose former.

    And that is what our government chooses. At this time you may think that I am strong supporter of the ruling party but the reality is the revers. I am speaking out what is in my mind.

    Sisay Tadesse
    Electrical Engineer

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