Ethiopia dam project rides roughshod over heritage of local tribespeople
Human rights abuse allegations as tens of thousands forced off
traditional lands to make way for Gibe III dam project plantations
by John Vidal, environment editor
ï¿½ guardian.co.uk, Thursday 23 February 2012
Thousands of semi-nomadic tribespeople are being forcibly moved from
their traditional lands in southern Ethiopia to make way for European
and Indian sugar cane and biofuel plantations, according to
testimonies collected by Survival International researchers.
Agricultural developments along the Omo river valley have accompanied
the building of the 243-metre-high Gibe III dam, expected to be
Ethiopia's largest investment project and Africa's largest hydropower
plant. But allegations of human rights abuses have marred both the
dam's construction and the creation of a 140-mile-long reservoir
intended to provide water for irrigation of industrial-scale
"Clearance of people and bush has started in earnest in the Omo Valley
and violence against tribal people by the military, and tribal
resistance, is increasing", says a Survival researcher who has just
returned to London from the region.
"The tribes have been told the plan is to resettle them, and that this
will happen by the end of 2012. These people are among the most self-
sufficient in a country where famine and hunger are prevalent."
New sugar cane and biofuel plantations are already affecting about
10,000 people from the Bodi, Mursi and Kwegu tribes. But as the
government clears more land, more people will be affected. Between
20,000 and 40,000 could be affected by one cane project alone, claims
"The plantations and resettlement of people [into new villages] will
destroy their livelihoods and ability to fend for themselves," said a
spokesman. "They will almost certainly end up languishing in the
villages or 'camps', relying on donor aid [and] having lost all sense
of identity and self worth, as has happened with other tribes forcibly
resettled in many other countries."
The Omo tribes, who are among the most diverse in the world, have
until now depended on the annual, three-month long flood of the Omo
river, which flows from southern Ethiopia into Lake Turkana in
northern Kenya, depositing fertile silt and allowing them to plant
sorghum, maize and other crops. But without land for cultivation or
grazing, the tribes will be destitute and foodless, say international
"The government came to take the land for itself for the sugar cane
plantations," said one man in a testimony given to Survival. "It never
came to ask us. It came, took our land, and told us it wants to move
all the people in the Omo Valley to stay in one place like a camp. It
took my land. Now it beats us."
A second man said: "The government says cattle and people have to move
from the Omo valley to where there are no grass and no crops. We and
the cattle will die together. We are not rich people, we are
"There are many machines clearing the bush and the road. The
government is coming to clear our houses and throw our sorghum in the
river. Now we live in the bush because all the land has been cleared,"
said a third.
The construction of large dams has a history of insensitive
relocations of people and environmental problems. More than 400,000
people have been resettled as a direct result of dam construction in
Africa. But the construction of Gibe III could eventually affect more
than 1.5 million people, according to watchdog group International
Some of the greatest hydrological effects could be seen near Lake
Turkana, into which the river Omo flows. When the dam is complete and
the reservoir is full, possibly in 2015, the lake could shrink to one
third of its present size, jeopardising the livelihoods of up to
The Ethiopian government in London did not respond to the allegations
this week, but late last year it strongly denied accusations of human
rights abuses in the valley, saying: "The government is fully
committed to rural development to benefit the people and it is equally
committed to the rights of all the nations, nationalities and peoples
in the country, including those in the Omo river basin. The reality on
the ground in the Omo Valley shows a totally different picture to that
painted by Survival International. Following consultations, local
people have confirmed agreement to the plantation projects, and to the
proposed resettlement; the projects, designed for everybody's benefit
and well-being, are progressing smoothly."
A spokesman for International Rivers said: "The dwindling of resources
caused by the dam would increase local conflicts between ethnic
groups. Firearms are already omnipresent among the region's
communities. But the dam is just one factor in a perfect storm rapidly
descending on the Lower Omo Valley. The government of Ethiopia is
exploring the area for oil and minerals and planning large-scale
agricultural and biofuel schemes, which could further fuel conflicts
over traditional land and water resources."
ï¿½ ï¿½ 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
All rights reserved.
Jornal do Brazil
22/02 ï¿½s 10h29 - Atualizada em 22/02 ï¿½s 10h36
Survival revela chocantes abusos aos direitos humanos na Etiï¿½pia
Jornal do Brasil
A Survival International revelou novas evidï¿½ncias chocantes de abusos
contra os direitos humanos de tribos no Vale do Omo na Etiï¿½pia, dados
os esforï¿½os crescentes por parte do governo de desenvolver plantaï¿½ï¿½es
de cana-de-aï¿½ï¿½car na regiï¿½o.
Dois meninos Karo ï¿½s margens do rio Omo na Etiï¿½pia, essencial ï¿½s suas
Escavadeiras tï¿½m aplainado terra prï¿½xima a um Patrimï¿½nio Mundial da
UNESCO, destruindo vilas e forï¿½ando comunidades locais a desistirem do
seu estilo de vida pastoreio.
O medo estï¿½ crescendo entre as tribos prï¿½ximas ao rio Omo, com a
violï¿½ncia e relatos de espancamentos, estupros e prisï¿½es.
A Survival recebeu, em janeiro de 2012, relatos de que trï¿½s homens
Bodi foram espancados atï¿½ a morte numa prisï¿½o na Etiï¿½pia.
O governo tambï¿½m estï¿½ ordenando ï¿½s famï¿½lias para que vendam os seus
animais. Um homem disse ï¿½ Survival, ï¿½O meu dinheiro ï¿½ o meu gado. A
minha conta bancï¿½ria ï¿½ o meu gado. ï¿½
A Survival tem fotos exclusivas de uma estrada sendo construï¿½da pelo
governo etï¿½ope, a qual atravessa diretamente uma terra tribal, de
forma a facilitar o acesso a zonas de desmatamento.
Um homem Mursi declarou, ï¿½O governo estï¿½ desenvolvendo plantaï¿½ï¿½es de
cana de aï¿½ï¿½car na minha terra. Quando vocï¿½ vir tudo isso, vocï¿½ chorarï¿½
ï¿½ nï¿½o hï¿½ mais mata no Vale do Omo agora.ï¿½
Dois departamentos das Naï¿½ï¿½es Unidas demandaram ï¿½ Etiï¿½pia que
evidencie que as tribos estï¿½o sendo consultadas, e que os
desenvolvimentos atuais nï¿½o estï¿½o danificando o patrimï¿½nio cultural e
natural. Contudo, o governo etï¿½ope ignorou os pedidos.
A Survival tambï¿½m recebeu preocupantes relatos em que o governo da
Etiï¿½pia teria comeï¿½ado um processo de assentamento forï¿½ado das tribos
do Vale do Omo.
ï¿½s comunidades tem sido dado um ano para a realocaï¿½ï¿½o, em um programa
similar ï¿½quele descrito pela Human Rights Watch no oeste etï¿½ope na
regiï¿½o de Gambela.
Um homem Mursi disse ï¿½ Survival, ï¿½Ele (o governo) veio, roubou-nos a
terra e disse-nos que queria mover todas as pessoas no Vale do Omo a
um local como um campo.ï¿½
A Survival International disse hoje, ï¿½O governo da Etiï¿½pia ï¿½
responsï¿½vel por alguns dos abusos mais violentos contra os direitos
humanos que a Survival viu nos ï¿½ltimos anos. Isso acontece, uma vez
que se disfarï¿½a o roubo de terras em nome de ï¿½desenvolvimentoï¿½,
esperando ir longe com tais atrocidades. Somente investidores estatais
e privados se beneficiarï¿½o da usurpaï¿½ï¿½o do Vale do Omo, enquanto
tribos autossuficientes encaram a destruiï¿½ï¿½o.ï¿½
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