African Development Bank to investigate Ethiopia’s Gibe 3 Dam project

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has agreed to open investigations into the construction of the Gibe 3 Dam in Ethiopia.

According to a press release by the environmental NGO, International Rivers, copied to, the AfDB’s independent review mechanism, the CRMU(1), has opened the door to a critical investigation into the1.55 billion euro Gibe 3 Dam project.

It said, the unit has accepted a request for project investigation submitted by five international organizations. Adding, the Management from the African Development Bank has until August 20 to respond to the Compliance Review Mechanism Unit (CRMU), at which time the CRMU is expected to formally commence a full investigation of the Bank’s involvement in the controversial project.

The NGOs say the 1,870 MW hydropower dam which was started in 2006 was began without completed studies or secured financing.  The Gibe 3 Dam, which is Ethiopia’s largest infrastructure to date, has sparked debates among Ethiopia’s neighbours, especially Kenya and civil society groups.

Those opposing the construction of the hydropower dam, argue that it would create poverty and exacerbate conflict in an already volatile region.

The Gibe 3 Dam will bring significant harm to local people in Ethiopia, where affected peoples and civil society have been unable to raise concerns about the project due to fear of government retaliation, acording to International Rivers.

The requestors charge that poor preparation has resulted in multiple violations of the African Development Bank’s Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures and its policies on: Disclosure of Information, Gender, Poverty Reduction, Resettlement, and Water Resources Management. The request for project investigation was submitted after more than four months of failed attempts to discuss the concerns with Bank staff, it said.

Terri Hathaway of International Rivers said, “the Bank’s failure to protect hundreds of thousands of project-affected people is scandalous. Bank support for Gibe 3 would brand the Bank as a creator of poverty and enabler of closed-door corruption. We look forward to a full investigation of the Bank’s role in the Gibe 3 Dam.”

The Gibe 3 Dam, International Rivers says,  will have irreversible and highly negative effects on up to half a million people living downstream in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The natural flood cycle of the Omo River, which is central to the downstream region’s economy and food security, would be fundamentally disrupted, causing community systems to unravel and resource conflicts to increase. Filling the dam’s reservoir would drain Kenya’s Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, stressing its fragile ecosystem to the brink of collapse.(3) Many predict that these effects could destabilize the region, particularly the disputed national borders between Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan known as the Ilemi Triangle, it added.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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  1. despes says

    Tell me if the change in the lives of a million people is worse than the poverty of 80 million including the ones mentioned above. The fact is, this project is a matter of life and death for Ethiopians. That country doesn’t have the luxury of overpaid fat cats in some international environmental organizations. I think this is a misplaced effort and I say shame on them.
    Ethiopia should be allowed to build this dam. There is very little risk, and particularly minuscule when compared to the risks evolved in similar projects undertaken in Egypt and Sudan.

  2. Alexander says

    The concern about the environmental impact of Gibe III dam by these paper Tigers is misplaced to say the least. If anything, the dam will improve the lives of the people downstreams by controlling the periodic flooding in the valley that has killed several people as recently as 2006. The dam will have no effect on the water levels of lake Turkana because the dam will only be used for electicity generation and no large scale irrigation activities are planned around the lake. Therefore, there is no reason why the water flow be reduced once the dam is filled in. On the otherhand, the dam will have enormous contribution for the economic progress Ethiopia and the neighbouring countries including Kenya that will benefit from cheap electicity that will be generated by the dam. So, people need to chill out and let the AFDB help in financing the project that is 32% complete already.

  3. Sisay says

    We Africans, let’s united to lighten our “darkest continent”. Our development bank will contribute its part leaving such unreasonable ideas away. We know “poverty” in practice: no electrification, no communication, no automation, no proper health service,…

    Gibe III is Africa’s wealth to the way out of poverty by protecting environment, by minimizing carbon sequestration, by regulating flood and drought, by facilitating educational and health coverage, by mitigation the negative impact of climatic change and improving our resilience.

    The one who needs to enjoy their life with starved, uneducated, ill-furnished, and low resilience people to the changing climate (they called them “local”) can make their children as local people in their own continent if they want not to miss such living standard for their recreation.

    Regulating reservoirs are a must, according to most standard research results, to make resilience to drought and flood higher. They are economically profitable, socially acceptable and environmentally safe if dams will be built in Ethiopian highlands than downstream. It was not secret that people at downstream of Omo/Gibe rive were flooded several times and no international organizations were concerned at that moment.

    We need constructive ideas on how regulation of river flow will be just to balance both upstream and downstream environs if there is a missing concept on the existing impact assessment study.

    AfDB, go on to see enlightened Africa as others did on their continent!


  4. Negere says

    what concern me most is the utilization of this much capital just to export electiccity. Once th electricity power is met for
    the next two decades
    it is wiser to utilize the fund in
    other sectors wher there is a great demand for investments. Fund providers should look in detail since there were many disasterous projects in Africa

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