World Water Day: Ethiopian Mega-Dam Causes Global Outrage
Hundreds of human rights and environmental organizations around the world are circulating a global petition to protest a giant hydroelectric the dam currently under construction in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley.
Experts say the dam will have an enormous impact on the delicate ecosystem of the region by altering the seasonal flooding of the Omo River and dramatically reduce its downstream volume.
In July 2006 the Ethiopian government signed a contract with the Italian company Salini Costruttori to build Gibe III, the biggest hydro-electric dam in the country, according to Survival International. In violation of Ethiopia’s laws, indigenous tribes were not consulted about the decision, and there was no competitive bidding for the contract.
The dam, which the Ethiopian government reports is only 40 percent complete, will destroy natural flood patterns that are vital for the Omo tribes’ cultivation methods. Although the government claims an ‘artificial flood’ will solve the problem, the dam constructors last year revealed plans for the tribes to ‘switch from flood-retreat agriculture to more modern (sic) forms of agriculture’ following a ‘transitory period’.
Survival International reports that an imposed ‘switch’ of this kind will almost certainly prove disastrous, entailing an end to the already inadequate ‘artificial flood’ without any guarantee of alternative means of survival.
Almost 400 organizations have signed a petition against Africa’s tallest dam, which will be delivered to Ethiopian embassies across Europe and the United States to mark World Water Day on Tuesday 22nd March.
The petition calls upon the Ethiopian government to ‘suspend the Gibe III dam project on the Omo River unless and until it obtains the free, prior and informed consent of the affected tribes to the project’.
Join them by participating in the following actions:
- Write a letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia urging him to reconsider the project.
- Sign the petition to stop the Gibe III dam.
Image: Gibe 3 reservoir site in Ethiopia
Credit: International Rivers