Environment group calls to suspend
funding of Ethiopia's dam
May 8, 2009 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
- Sudan Tribune
An international environmental group urged the African
Development Bank (AfDB) to reconsider their commitment
to fund the ongoing construction of a dam in southwest
Ethiopia saying it would affect the ecosystems and
livelihoods in the region.
The Gibe III Dam, located 190 miles (300 km) southwest
of Addis Ababa, on the Omo River, is Ethiopia's largest
investment project. The project costs $1.7 billion.
In order to diversify and develop its economy, the
government of Ethiopia has initiated an aggressive
plan to develop hydropower for export, long seen as
one of the country's few exploitable resources. Foreign
aid covers 90% of Ethiopia's national budget.
International Rivers urged the AfDB to not fund the
construction of Gibe III saying it will reduce food
security of up to half a million poor farmers, herders
and fishers in southwest Ethiopia and northern Kenya.
"An oasis of biodiversity in a harsh desert, Lake
Turkana supports 300,000 people and rich animal life.
Hundreds of thousands of fishing families and pastoralists
will be affected if the lake's fragile ecosystem is
stressed to the brink of collapse."
"The project would spread war and famine in a region
that is already affected by climate change," further
said International Rivers.
Next week from May 13-14 the AfDB directors will
discuss during a meeting to be held in Dakar, Senegal,
the funding of Gibe III which is under construction
since 2006. The African bank agreed to contribute
to finance the project but it has to determine how
much it would pay.
European Investment Bank is considering financing
Gibe III, up to € 250 million, while Italy is mulling
financing Gibe III with up to € 250 million.
In complaints filled to the AfDB, Kenyan NGOs and
International Rivers assert that the project violates
five binding AfDB policies.
Construction of the Gibe 3 Project began in July
2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopia's laws on
environmental protection and procurement, said the
environment advocacy group.
It also alleged that the contract was awarded without
competitive bidding to Italian construction giant
Salini, raising serious questions about the project's
The nongovernmental group said the AfDB should suspend
its plans to fund this project until a thorough review
and consultations with all affected peoples have taken
"The AfDB should in the meantime help Ethiopia drought-proof
its energy sector, diversify its energy mix, and tap
its abundant renewable energy resources."