Some international NGOs are calling for a halt in the construction of Ethiopia’s biggest hydro-dam, the Gibe 3 Dam.
According to the NGOs, if the dam is constructed, it will end the natural flow of the Omo River in Ethiopia, end the river’s natural flood cycle and it will destroy harvests and grazing lands along the river and fisheries in Lake Turkana, which is the world’s largest desert lake.
“The dam will devastate the unique culture and ecosystems of the Lower Omo Valley and Lake Turkana, both recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” the groups said in a statement.
They argued further that the construction of the dam violates Ethiopia’s constitution, international conventions, the environmental safeguard policies of international financial institutions and the strategic priorities of the independent World Commission on Dams.
The NGOs also say, the people to be affected by the construction of the dam know very little about it.
Construction of the dam began in 2006, but the Ethiopian government needs more than $1.4 billion to finish it, is said. In spite of serious impacts and violations, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the Italian and the Kenyan governments are currently considering funding the project, it added.
“Gibe 3 is the most destructive dam under construction in Africa. The project will condemn half a million of the region’s most vulnerable people to hunger and conflict,” Terri Hathaway, director of International Rivers’ Africa Program, was quoted as saying.
Caterina Amicucci, of the Italian group CRBM and a member of Counter Balance was quoted as saying., “This dam is a man-made disaster and violates national and international legislation. This should not be financed with development aid. International Financial Institutions and development agencies must withdraw immediately from the operation.”
The NGOs resisting the construction include, CRBM, Friends of the Lake Turkana and the Counter Balance.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi