Thursday, October 13, 2011

UN seeks answers from Ethiopia over giant Gibe III dam

two articles....

UN seeks answers from Ethiopia over giant Gibe III dam


Posted Thursday, October 13 2011 at 15:13

One of the working groups under the UN structure, the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), has asked Ethiopia to
respond to an earlier request about the controversial Gibe III hydro
dam project in the next three months.

The committee demanded urgent information from Ethiopian government
about the impact of the giant dam on local communities.

The UN body has written to Ethiopia with its concerns and noted that
previous requests from the UN�s Special Rapporteur on indigenous
rights had been ignored.

The Committee has now called on Ethiopia to submit an official
response by January 2012.

The World Heritage Committee, the UN arm which establishes sites to be
listed as being of special cultural or physical significance, had
earlier called for Ethiopia to "immediately halt all construction" and
for "all financial institutions supporting the Gibe III dam to put on
hold their financial support". (Read: UN calls for suspension of giant
hydropower dam)

Both the Omo Valley, and Kenya�s Lake Turkana, which is fed by the Omo
river, have been recognised by Unesco as World Heritage Sites.

Chain of projects
Gibe III dam is one of a chain of five Ethiopian government energy
projects on the Omo River which flows to Kenya.

China, Italy and the African Development Bank are financing the
construction of the dam which has the potential to generate 1,870

The World Bank and the European Investment Bank however withdrew from
funding the Ethiopia power projects after the controversy mounted.

But the project manager of Gibe III in a telephone interview told this
reporter that Ethiopia had carried out multiple impact assessments on
the project and government was ready to present the results to either
financiers or other interested parties.

"What I know is that we have environment and social assessment
reports," Ms Azeb Asnake said. She said she was confident Ethiopia
would respond to the UN's demand but that the intention of the request
is "unclear".

The Ethiopian government accuses international minority rights and non-
governmental groups of seeking to interrupt the Horn of Africa's
development. (Read: Ethiopia stands firm on Gibe)

Survival International, one of the organisations spearheading the
campaign against Gibe recently said 100 people inside Ethiopia have
been arrested for opposing the dam.

Currently Ethiopia is constructing another dam--said to be the biggest
on the Nile river with a capacity of 5, 225 MW-- at an estimated cost
of around $5 billion.

The project is to be internally funded with Ethiopians in the last six
months having contributed more than $450 million.

Ethiopia was to last week inaugurate a power link with Djibouti in
Djibouti city.

It is also set to export electricity to Kenya and Sudan and hopes to
earn foreign currency.

From Djibouti Ethiopia has targeted revenues of more than $700
million annually.


UN puts pressure on Ethiopia over controversial Gibe III dam

by Joanna Eede of Survival International October 12, 2011 Comments

A Mursi boy from Ethiopia�s Omo valley leans on a stick used for
�thagine�, the tribe�s ritual duelling, and stares at the camera. His
upper arms are decorated with beaded cuffs, his face painted with
white clay.

The lower valley of the Omo River is believed to have been a cultural
crossroads for thousands of years, where a vast diversity of migrating
peoples have converged. At least eight different tribes, including
the Mursi people, live in the region and depend on the river, having
developed ecological practices over generations that are intricately
adapted to its flooding cycles.

Today, Survival International has released the news that the UN�s
concern is growing over Ethiopia�s construction of the Gibe III dam, a
vast hydroelectric dam which will block the south-western part of the
river, end the Omo�s natural flooding cycles and joepardize the
tribes� sophisticated flood-retreat cultivation methods.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has
given Ethiopia until the end of January 2012 to provide reliable
evidence that independent assessments have been carried out, and that
tribal people in the region have been properly consulted. The UN�s
World Heritage Committee has also written to Ethiopia, calling for it
to �immediately halt all construction� and for �all financial
institutions supporting the Gibe III dam to put on hold their
financial support.�

Both the Omo Valley, and Kenya�s Lake Turkana, which is fed by the Omo
river, have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

�If the government dams the Omo Valley tribes� water, these peoples
may not survive�, said Stephen Corry, Director of Survival

�There is no singing and dancing along the Omo River now,� said a
Mursi man. �The people are too hungry. The kids are quiet.�

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