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The Dam and the Damned: Gibe III Ethiopia

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03/19/12

  01:54:23 am, by admin, 3184 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Dam and the Damned: Gibe III Ethiopia

The Dam and the Damned: Gibe III Ethiopia

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Cry Me a River, Cry Me a Lake

Three years ago to the week, I wrote a weekly commentary entitled, “Cry Me a Lake: Crime Against Nature”. That commentary focused on the plight of tens of thousands of Ethiopians who are sick and dying from drinking the polluted waters of Lake Koka, once a pristine lake, located some 50km south of Addis Ababa. A world renowned scientist from the University of Durham, U.K., analyzed water samples from Lake Koka and found “high concentrations of the microcystis bacteria”, which he said are among “some of the most toxic molecules known to man.” I argued:
The Lake Koka environmental disaster is only the tip of the iceberg. Ethiopia is facing an ecological catastrophe: deforestation, desertification, soil erosion, overgrazing and population explosion. The Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute says Ethiopia loses up to 200,000 hectares of forest every year. Between 1990 and 2005, Ethiopia lost 14.0% of its forest cover (2,114,000 hectares) and 3.6% of its forest and woodland habitat. If the trend continues, it is expected that Ethiopia could lose all of its forest resources in 11 years, by the year 2020.
Dam, Dams and Damned Dams

Like the people who are dying around Lake Koka, the people who live in the Omo River Basin in Southwestern Ethiopia are facing an environmental disaster that could push them not only to hunger, starvation, dislocation and conflict, but potentially to extinction through habitat destruction. According to International Rivers, a highly respected environmental and human rights organization committed to “protecting rivers and defending the rights of communities that depend on them”:

The Omo River is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in southwest Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The Gibe 3 Hydropower Dam, already under construction, will dramatically alter the Omo River’s flood cycle, affecting ecosystems and livelihoods all the way down to the world’s largest desert lake, Kenya’s Lake Turkana. The Lower Omo Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to an estimated 200,000 agro-pastoralists from eight distinct indigenous groups who depend on the Omo River’s annual flood to support riverbank cultivation and grazing lands for livestock.

The Omo River and its tributaries are being exploited for their hydro electrical potential, and the surrounding areas are handed out to so-called international investors for export commercial agriculture. “Gilgel Gibe I” was built at a cost of nearly USD$300 million provided by the World Bank and other European investment banks. It became operational in 2004 after 6 years of construction and generates 183 MW. The 63 square-kilometer reservoir created for the dam displaced some 10 thousand people. “Gilgel Gibe II”, according to Salini Costruttori, the Italian company that built it, “is a continuation of Gilgel Gibe I project” and is “not a dam” but “instead will use the water discharged by the Gilgel Gibe I channeled through a 26km tunnel under Fofa mountain to Omo River Valley.” It was built at a cost of 373 million euros provided by Italy and the European Investment Bank. Gilgel Gibe II collapsed in February 2010 just weeks after its official inauguration.

The “Gibe III” Dam is the one that has raised the most concern among environmentalists and multilateral institutions because it poses the most serious hydrological risks to the quarter of a million people and the flora and fauna of the Omo Basin. Experts fear that Gibe III could destroy the fragile ecosystem for an additional 300,000 people downstream in Lake Turkana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (a site of special cultural or physical significance to the world at large) which gets up to 90% of its water from the Omo River.

“Gibe III”- A Dam Environmental Disaster Under Construction

In 2006, construction began on the Gibe III Dam. In July 2008, Ethiopia’s Environmental Protection Authority issued the Gibe III Environmental Social Impact Assessment approving the project. The report was a shameless whitewash which rubber-stamped the project. The report unabashedly concluded that there will be little adverse environmental impact and that the reservoir area for Gibe III is unfit for human habitation because it is infested by deadly mosquitoes and tsetse flies (which cause “sleeping sickness”):

In 2006, an estimated 253,412 people around the Gibe III… However, as a result of steep slope and Tsetse fly infestation, there is no settlement in the future reservoir area and settlements are concentrated on the highland in areas outside the valley… As the result of the less favorable rainfall, Tsetse fly infestation and the consequent occurrence of cattle disease, trypanosomiasis, there is very little farming activity around the Omo valley bottom lands. The project areas are highly endemic for malaria with continuous transmission and malaria is by far the most common of the diseases... The presence of several rivers (tributaries to Omo River) provides ideal breeding habitats for mosquitoes…The the population living within the proposed dam and the reservoir areas are not in close proximity to this UNESCO designated heritage site. No visible archaeological remains, which have scientific, cultural, public, economic, ethnic and historic significances, have been observed in the area and dam sites. The sites have no archaeological importance… A wide range of livestock diseases affect animal in the Lower Omo.
This “environmental impact statement” has been roundly criticized for “its poor preparation and belated release two years after construction began, a flagrant violation of Ethiopian environmental law, which requires an impact assessment be approved prior to construction.”

Tewolde Geber Egziabher, the General Manager of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia, is dismissive of human rights groups and other international institutions who have expressed doubt or criticized the lack rigorous environmental analysis in the construction of Gibe III. Geber Egziabher said:

I doubt if they [international rights groups] know where Gibe III is except on the map. Those who have been shouting about Gibe III Hydroelectric Project they know it only from thousands miles away. I really do not take their voices seriously… None of the opponents of the Project are from Ethiopia. I know one from Kenya and several others from Europe. The only person who claimed to have gone to the Gibe III dam site was the BBC reporter; and he can also not judge such measure undertakings from one –day- visit… The interest behind the adverse comment against Gibe III Dam is ignorance. Therefore, I simply dismiss the complaints as they are irrelevant.
An independent study by the African Resources Working Group (ARWG), an expert group of “scholars and consultants from the United States, Europe and eastern Africa, with extensive experience in large hydrodam and river basin development research and policy issues in the Horn and East Africa,” presented a detailed rebuttal pointing out numerous flaws:

The document [Environmental Impact Assessment] rests on a series of faulty premises and that it is further compromised by pervasive omissions, distortions and obfuscation. The downstream EIA is laced with tables and figures with multiple types of ‘quantitative data’, creating the illusion of a scientific work. While this practice is well known to increase the likelihood of approval by development, finance and oversight agencies, it is fully unacceptable…

An accurate assessment of environmental and social processes within the lower Omo Basin indicates that completion of the Gibe III dam would produce a broad range of negative effects, some of which would be catastrophic in the tri-country region where Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya intersect… The indigenous peoples of the lowermost Omo Basin are dependent on riverside and delta recessional cultivation, as well as grazing resources, food gathering, fishing and other activities wholly dependent on flooding by the Omo River. This population would face massive economic losses, with widespread severe hunger, disease and loss of life occurring on a regional scale, if the Gibe III dam is completed.

In June 2011, UNESCO concluded that “GIBE III dam is likely to significantly alter Lake Turkana’s fragile hydrological regime, and threaten its aquatic species and associated biological systems” and “urged the State Party of Ethiopia to immediately halt all construction on the GIBE III dam [and not] damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage located on the territory of another State Party.” Terri Hathaway, director of International Rivers' Africa program, said Gibe III is “the most destructive dam under construction in Africa.” The project would condemn “half a million of theregion’s most vulnerable people to hunger and conflict.”
Other regional and international organizations have similarly concluded that Gibe III will have “catastrophic consequences for the tribes of the Omo Riverwho already live close to the margins of life in this dry and challenging area.” They assert that the “dam would dramatically alter the Omo River's flood cycle, affecting ecosystems and livelihoods and ultimately destroy the local food security and economy. The dwindling of resources caused by the dam is likely to increase local conflicts between ethnic groups.” Even the traditional sources of funding – the European Investment Bank, the African Development Bank, the World bank, the Italian government and others – have withdrawn their support for Gibe III.

Dictator Meles Zenawi responded to the international critics of Gibe III in his usual demeaning and contemptuous style. He claimed those who call for a halt to the construction of the dam “don’t want to see a developed Africa; they want us to remain undeveloped and backward to serve their tourists as a museum.” Zenawi’s representatives followed suit directing their ire at the “vociferous campaigners against the dam: International Rivers and Friends of Lake Turkana”. They charged, “Western activists have no monopoly of concern of environmental issues. Nor do they have any monopoly on accuracy.” They claimed that the international environmentalists make unsubstantiated “assertions” and are “ignorant”.

Verbal pyrotechnics against critics is stock-in-trade for Zenawi and his regime. When the European Union declared in November 2010 that the May 2010 election in which Zenawi claimed victory of 99.6 percent does not meet international standards for fair elections, Zenawi frothed at the mouth calling the report “trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage. The report is not about our election. It is just the view of some Western neo-liberals who are unhappy about the strength of the ruling party. Anybody who has paper and ink can scribble whatever they want.” Last month, Zenawi shredded Human Rights Watch for criticizing his flagrant abuse of a so-called anti-terrorism law to decimate the independent press and political dissent in Ethiopia:

A campaign has been launched against us… There's a reason behind it. This institution [Human Rights Watch] is playing a role of [promoting] ideologies. This organization and its friends' world view are playing a role to speak against some countries, if they look to be on the road to success on an ideology that is different from the current world view. So it's a campaign to [bring] those of us to our knees that deviate from the current world view. There's no connection with human rights.”

So the official view is that all of the opposition to Gibe III is an international conspiracy by the usual boogeymen suspects of “neocolonialists” “neoliberals”, and perhaps “neoideologists” and “neonates.”
African Dictators and African White Elephants

African dictators like to build big projects. It is part of the “Big Man” syndrome in Africa where public office is a means to private gain and personal glory. Africa’s “Big Men” undertake big projects as a means to achieving glory, greatness, immortality, and more importantly, as a means of accumulating wealth for themselves and cronies. But these projects in the main are “white elephants” (wasteful, and useless projects). In the Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny built the largest church in the world, The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, at a cost of USD$300 million. It stands empty today. Mobutu built the The Inga Dams in western Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) on the largest waterfalls in the world (Inga Falls). Inga I and Inga II were advertised to provide vast amounts of power domestically; today operate at low output. When civil war broke out in the late 1990s, these dams went unmanaged and fell into disrepair. Bujagali dam in Uganda had a devastating effect on communities in the area. The backflow submerged a huge area of cultivable and settled land forcing migration and resettlement of large numbers of people. Self-appointed Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic built a 500-room Hotel Intercontinental for hundreds of millions of dollars in the middle of a residential district while millions of his people suffered from starvation.

African dictators like to build dams, shiny glass buildings and commission all sorts of extravagant projects as their people remain trapped in a relentless cycle of poverty. They do it to accumulate great personal wealth, increase their prestige, feed their fragile and insatiable egos, mask their gross incompetence, cover their bloody hands and justify their clinging to power indefinitely. They seek to clothe their naked dictatorships by displaying veneers of progress and development. These dictators could not care less if the people starve, are displaced from their ancestral homes, remain in poverty or go to hell. They could not care less if the environment is destroyed, cultural and archaeological relics are lost or the ways of life of indigenous people and communities are obliterated. Zenawi wants to be known for having built the “240-meter Gibe III, the tallest dam in Africa.” He wants to be known as an “African Messiah”. In February 2011, announcing the development of a massive 245,000 hectare sugar plantation in the lower Omo Basin, Zenawi declared with rapturous certainty: “In the coming five years there will be a very big irrigation project and related agricultural development in this zone. I promise you that, even though this area is known as backward in terms of civilization, it will become an example of rapid development.”
The price to be paid for “rapid development” by the Mursi, Suri and Bodi agro-pastoralists and others – those damned by the dam -- in the Omo Basin is dislocation, displacement, destruction of traditional ways of life, persecution, loss of ancestral lands, starvation, conflict and potential extinction.

More Power for Ethiopians, No Power for Dictators

Ethiopia, like all other African countries, needs to develop its energy resources to meet the needs of its people, support its long range economic development plans and improve the standard of living of the people.Ethiopia’s population is expected to triple to 280 million by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There is no question that the country needs diverse sources of energy, including renewable energy sources, for its future.
But Gibe III is not intended to meet domestic power needs. Rather, much of the estimated 1,870MW is planned for “export” to Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya, presumably generating 300 million euros annually in profits. That is not particularly reassuring. A recent report by the Global Financial Integrityshowed that between 2000 and 2009, 11.7 billion was stolen out of the country. In light of this evidence, those claiming to develop Gibe III for national economic development are fooling no one. As the old saying goes, “We may have been born yesterday, but not last night.”

The Toxic Ecology of African Dictatorships

In December 2009, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The Toxic Ecology of African Dictatorships”:
The inconvenient truth about Africa today is that dictatorship presents a far more perilous threat to the survival of Africans than climate change. The devastation African dictators have wreaked upon the social fabric and ecosystem of African societies is incalculable…. Africans face extreme privation and mass starvation not because of climate change but because of the rapacity of power-hungry dictators. The continent today suffers from a terminal case of metastasized cancer of dictatorships, not the blight of global warming…. The fact of the matter is that while the rest of the world toasts from global warming, Africa is burning down in the fires of dictatorship. While Europeans are fretting about their carbon footprint, Africans are gasping to breathe free under the boot prints of dictators. While Americans are worried about carbon emission trapped in the atmosphere, Africans find themselves trapped in minefields of dictatorship… Africa faces an ecological collapse not because of climate change but because of lack of regime change.

Geber Egziabher, the General Manager of the Environmental Protection Authority, made a comment which Ethiopians should heed carefully. He said those who criticize Gibe III “know it only from thousands miles away. I really do not take their voices seriously… None of the opponents of the Project are from Ethiopia.” He said critics of the dam were “ignorant”.

The fact of the matter is that Zenawi’s regime provided little public information on Gibe III prior to the start of construction and stonewalled any request for information once the project got underway. There has been little consultation with the people in the Omo River Basin, and the few locals who were “consulted” got the opportunity long after construction was under way. Obviously, in the absence of free speech and a free independent press, it is difficult to discuss, propose alternatives or criticize the dam project. But the evidence is clear that those locals who disagreed with Gibe III and/or the Omo land-grab were treated harshly. A report by the Oakland Institute, a US-based think-tank, has documented how regime soldiers “arrived at Omo Valley villages (and in particular Bodi, Mursi and Suri villages) questioning villagers about their perspectives on the sugar plantations. Villagers are expected to voice immediate support, otherwise beatings (including the use of tasers), abuse and general intimidation occurs”.

Geber Egziabher’s criticism that “none of the opponents of the Project [Gibe III] are from Ethiopia” should be clearly understood. What he is saying is that Ethiopians (including those in the Diaspora) are so environmentally unaware and uninformed that outsiders are making the case for them. Obviously, environmental advocacy is best done by civil society institutions (an Amnesty International report issued last week concluded, “Human rights organizations in Ethiopia have been devastated by the impact of the Charities and Societies Proclamation passed in January 2009”) but such institutions have been decimated, leaving Ethiopians uninformed about the environmental impact and potential risks of public projects, including free land give-aways to foreign “investors”. It is said that the Chinese will complete work on Gibe III. But there are many environmental challenges looming in Ethiopia; and in addition to taking on the enormous political, social and economic challenges, Ethiopians must now take on the environmental challenge.

We should be grateful to the great international human rights organization that have created awareness on Ethiopia’s precarious environmental situation, particularly on the destruction of Omo River Basin. But we cannot have them do all of the heavy lifting for us. We need to join them and help them help us, and engage in vigorous environmental activism of our own. That means we must create our own environmental civil society organizations, particularly in the Diaspora, and ensure that Ethiopia’s rich and diverse ecosystem is preserved and protected today and for future generations. If we fail to do that, we will all find ourselves in the same position as the people of the Omo River Basin who are damned by the dam.

Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
http://www.ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/category/al-mariam-amharic
http://ethioforum.org/?cat=24
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/ and
www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/

54 comments

Comment from: addiiss [Visitor]
addiiss

Awekech Awekech sile, ye-Kes Lij….

The Dumb and Damned “know it all” professor….what a banda!!! Traitor!!!

03/19/12 @ 02:29
Comment from: sintayehu [Visitor]
sintayehu

I just want you to know i hate tplf but i hate you more becase now i know you are number 1 enmey of the poor people of ethiopia

03/19/12 @ 03:16
Comment from: flulu [Visitor]
flulu

Survival international and other colonial organization have been looking for an Ethiopian voice to augment their distaste for the development of Ethiopian resource.Who comes to their resceu .None other than betryal in chief Al mariam .
Survial internation and others know this is a very cruical fight because if they lose this their crediblity and relevance will put into question.If they don’t win on this small case they know that they don’t have chances against more powerful countries.If they don’t win against small and poor countries like Ethiopia they known they know that the funding will dry up soon so they bring this ardent and most known ethiopian enemy into the picture.
The good news al is the fact that the dams more than 50% construction is finshed .The most difficult job of the construction is done .Nothing will stop us from going forward and get this job done .I know you will burn will hate and jealouse when the time comes.
Let the almighty God bless Ethiopia.

03/19/12 @ 04:14
Comment from: ejole bishoftu [Visitor]
ejole bishoftu

Professor Al,

So sad to see this kind of useless article from you.What are you advocating?.Please come to your sense.You are revealing yourself that you are against Ethiopia’s development.

03/19/12 @ 04:24
Comment from: Heny [Visitor]
Heny

Shut up Alemayoh,
No matter how many flowery words you stuff in your crap artcile, no matter how many world renowned people you cite, no matter how many times you try to insult our intelligent and pragmatic man, H.E Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, no matter how much you belittle the capacity of the Ethiopian people, Gigel Gibe 3 will for be built and inagurated soon. Then and only then, you can shed tears of despaire and hopelessness.
Light will be upon every town and hamlet in Ethiopia, inncluding the little place you were born.

03/19/12 @ 04:37
Comment from: giruma [Visitor]
giruma

Prof. Du m b a sss.
Traitor. The NGOs or now using some traitor Habeshas. Ethiopia can grow better if your mouth is shut then talking this bulllll.

I hate EPRDF but can’t hate development.

03/19/12 @ 04:59
Comment from: Koster [Visitor]
Koster

Do not be surprised if the hodam environment Minister said what he said, he has special quality to serve a monarch, communist and tribal junta. He is hodam/Aderbay.

03/19/12 @ 05:18
Comment from: addiszemen [Member]  
addiszemen

CRYING BLOOD ALMARIA,…….

Dem emba bitaleqis ayneh eskemifert,
Semay bitweta mider lay bitfert,
Ye edgetachin guzo fitsum ayilewet,
Alemaria bozo yebiqahi tesfa quret,
Aygebagnim kalkim ke foq lay tefetfet!!!

03/19/12 @ 05:35
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]
TEDDY

Adgiss shut your poisonous mouth lekemkami banda ,by the way what about your own leba master and his shabyan mouthpiece both of them supposed being great economists and political strategy specialists !!!
As said prof Al actually peoples living around Lake Koka are dramatically suffering .Their lands
poluted with pesticides and many more
chemical products from the famous
flower productions .So what would soon happen around lake Ziwai .By the
way do not forget the case of Lake
Alemaya dried for ever with extensive
Tchat Cultures in the area .Not only
they are violating Human Rights these
bandits are also destroying the environment for their own sake .

03/19/12 @ 05:50
Comment from: Florad [Visitor]
Florad

It is being opportunist to crook every fact for the purpose of supporting a predisposed conclusion. Is it not possible to write about pollution without mentioning Zenawi?

03/19/12 @ 06:30
Comment from: Favioli [Visitor]
Favioli

“Gilgel Gibe II collapsed in February 2010 just weeks after its official inauguration."…is written in this article, which is one in a long line of “articles” dedicated to condemn everything that is ever happening in that country; so i am not at all surprised by this diatribe. The truth is, the Gilgel Gibe II power station was immediately repaired (december of that year) and is now lightening up far flung towns and villages. How about that for a good news???? Can you stomach it???

You yourself be dammend!!!

03/19/12 @ 06:55
Comment from: Ethio [Visitor]
Ethio

You people r crezy,some of u living a country called USA; coz of losing your country by the poltics u r trying to make Ethiopia under developed country,

03/19/12 @ 07:31
Comment from: enough [Visitor]
enough

am lost as to who this guy represents… the whites or Ethiopians?

03/19/12 @ 07:32
Comment from: Hussien [Visitor]
Hussien

Cry me a River
Cry me a Lake
The funeral DJ found dead
Arr-Maria is silent in his bed
His master Afeworki bitten too bad
Al- Marriam Arr-Maria is found dead
No more tail wagging; no more curse
Al- mariam no longer able to acuse
Say: one, two, three, four,
One two, three, four,
What is Almariam waiting for
Afeworki is no good to cry for
Arrtera is tuned to remain poor.

03/19/12 @ 07:48
Comment from: Gudu [Visitor]
Gudu

addiiss

Please try to read the article before you comment. Don’t BE AN IDIOT MUJYELE WOYANE!

03/19/12 @ 07:54
Comment from: tadoes [Member]  
tadoes

Alamriam… you have been dumb on this one as on some other of your critical outbursts of objection. It is as if you have to stand on the opposite side of everything the regime stands for. Utter and complete crass ! You shouldn’t object just for the sake of it. Now wonder regime sympathisers dismiss you as a silly small town professor. Not sure your views count even among your admirers on this particular one.

03/19/12 @ 09:03
Comment from: lee [Visitor]
lee

It is a known fact that an economy cannot progress without infrastructure and cheap abundant energy - two sectors which Ethiopia is developing as we speak. There is no logic behind protesting a hydroelectric dam, if it’s going to significantly increase the electrical capacity of a country 3 times the size of Germany. Those who choose to live a more hunter-gatherer, that is, ancient way of life, must be left behind, (for they choose to live apart from mainstream society), especially if they account for less than 1 percent of a population of approximately 83 million. You have to consider the millions who are poor and want to live in modernity. Furthermore, no country, rich or poor can thrive without industrialization. And while we’re talking about facts, let’s consider these international aid organizations. Africa as a whole has received over 500 billion dollars in foreign aid in the past 50 years. Yet, poverty has increased, not decreased. Aid organizations can resolve certain isolated cases sickness, hunger, and lack of education, however those are only symptoms of the underlying illness - poverty. It is a proven fact that economic development eradicates poverty. What many of these NGOs are promoting is a welfare system. Billions of dollars thrown at poor African nations abjugates corrupt governments from their duties of developing their nations, because they are essentially receiving free money. Not to mention, foreign aid stifles entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s really perplexing as to why some Africans would be beholden to organizations that are based on pity and a paternalistic relationship with them.

03/19/12 @ 09:49
Comment from: Amhara Princess [Visitor]
Amhara Princess

Prof Al,

I agree with most of the issue you write on, your stance on Ethiopian/African dictators, your relentless effort to speak for the voiceless. However, this one sounds more like the many articles that are being pushed forward by friends of rivers, international rivers or whatever the hell they call themselves. You need to bare in mind that whatever infrastructures being built in Ethiopia will have significant impact on the future status of the country. Meaning, even if TPLFs plan to export the power, the Ethiopian people will certainly use it to light their country, internal use after they leave for NOTHING is forever. Therefore, I am not with you on this issue.

Environmental issues, laws are very controversial, extremely suspicious, are designed with hidden agenda to deter Africa’s development. When the western world developed their massive infrastructures at the expense of the world, they never considered environmental impacts but managed to wipe out millions of indigenous people from Africa, Asia, Australia, new Zealand, South America etc to help build infrastructures, build their respective nations. They have changed, messed up the maps, structures, livlihoods etc of other nations beyond recognition without an ounce of consideration to the people, environment, eco system etc.

… Now that they have finished building their respective countries, they are using environmental issues as weapon to stop other’s, mainly Africans progress. Do you believe majority of Caucasians care about African lives? They would wipe Africans out and resettle their folks in Africa if they were give a chance.

I look forward to your next article.

03/19/12 @ 10:16
Comment from: Tefera [Visitor]
Tefera

we all know that most ethiopians including those who oppose the government support the gibe project simply because they put their country before politics. however the professor, elias kifle and few others want ethiopians to put politics before every thing and stand on the side of international river, against the gibe3 dam project, .
now what is the definition of banda? isnt it a citizen that stands against the interest of his country. ofcourse even those bandas who collaborated with the italians have their well thought and articulated argument why they should fight against the kings by standing with the invaders, like the professor is trying here to stop ethiopia using her water resources..it is a shame!

03/19/12 @ 10:20
Comment from: Habtamu mammo [Visitor]
Habtamu mammo

Oh, “white elephants” project.!!!what an amazing commentary about Gibe lll !!!The writer who seems an advocater of the so called environmentalists & multilateral institutions…diaspora is advising & appelling the people of Ethiopia to preserve & protect the existing abject poverty for the future generations!!!

03/19/12 @ 10:22
Comment from: Jaquline [Visitor]
Jaquline

Belittling and insulting Africans is your hobby. I hope your white bosses would love you for that. Moron!!! Your degree is not worth the paper its written on.

03/19/12 @ 10:49
Comment from: tazabi1 [Visitor]
tazabi1

“African dictators like to build dams,”
…realy, this guy is stooping so low now he is making fun of building dams. by the way how come the previous 2 leaders of ethiopias werent keen on building dams, werent they dicators too..yigermal betam…
according to your theory there should have been dams, railways, highways and schools all over ethiopia right???but no because we have been under dictatorship for only 2 decades..lol…..

03/19/12 @ 10:56
Comment from: Ahun [Visitor]
Ahun

Wow…Somebody should feel really sorry for this mentally sick man, named Al Mariam. The level of his derangement is hitting a fan.

03/19/12 @ 11:18
Comment from: ethiopian [Visitor]
ethiopian

bla bla, this is a desperate writer. he better to use his potential on other staffs,, pl z don’t spend inks on paper.Is this a fiction or what,, try to learn from other writers,,short and very clear,

03/19/12 @ 11:21
Comment from: Gashaye [Visitor]
Gashaye

Hi Alemayehu,

You appear to be bogged down for destruction of your country at any cost to glorify your interest. we understand you are a good writer but doesn’t have a common sense. I undestand you share the same stigma as many of our elits- ‘ene kemot behual serdo aybkel’ and my way is always correct. please separate the development efforts with the political issues. Who ever comes as king of ETH including you, will have to accept what has been done by any gov and build on… don’t critisize all undergoing efforts to raise the country from Ash. what is the problem if the cuntry builds Gibe III. We know that the adverse effects are mitigable….please come to your senses and reflect the fair truth on the dire requirement of dev. in Ethiopia and who ever develops it is for the benefit of all of us…

03/19/12 @ 12:07
Comment from: Belay [Visitor]
Belay

well what can one say, other than pleading to the professor to leave this project alone for the sake of ethiopia. in fact if the professor is genuine, he should be calling for more funding that can be used to minimize any kind of enviromental impact as the result of the dam. now can he do that???

03/19/12 @ 12:17
Comment from: ፊታውራሪ Free [Member]

Come on man, what is wrong with you? Yes, a few hundred thousand Ethiopians livelihood will be affected because of this project, and some in Kenya which doesn’t concern me at all but, the benefit it will bring for millions of Ethiopians outweighs the cost. As of the so called environmental disaster, it is only hypothetical. Yes the flow of water downstream to the Kenyan lake will be reduced in the first few years or permanently, and that might affect or endanger the wild animals that depend on the lake. First, crying a river for the safety of wild animals downstream against a project that will immensely help millions of Ethiopian citizens, human beings, is contemptible. Second, Ethiopia is entitled to do whatever she sees economically viable and beneficial for the vast majority of her citizens. In this case, electrifying Ethiopia over maintaining the lifestyle of the few tribes who have been living where the construction is undergoing is a sound, smart, and visionary economical decision. Third, the environmentalists claims and assertions of environmental disaster is mostly false. They don’t have prove beyond a hypothetical point marks favoring theirs and their friends such as Egypt’s interest while demonizing Ethiopia’s rightful and just causes of developing her rivers and economy. Perhaps, the environment will be better of if we start burning coal to generate the power we needed to run our factories, hospitals, schools, cafes and generally the economy. What is next for you prof? Are you going to demand Ethiopia stops damming Abay so that the Egyptians downstream wont be affected like the Kenyans or the environment wont be affected? Sorry to say this, but what you wrote amounts to treason. If altering the surrounding environment, changing the lifestyle of a few tribes and endangering a few wild animals which eventually will adopt is what it takes to end poverty in our country, or even to help us reduce it by a small margin, then we are willing to do it. The so called environmentalists who are mainly the hirelings of Egypt and some sinister ngo’s whose existence depends on the existence of poverty can keep crying rivers and lakes. We don’t care.

03/19/12 @ 12:24
Comment from: Zurga [Visitor]
Zurga

Crocodile tears!

The Blue Nile Falls are drying due to the diversions of the water to Tana Beles Hydro electric power generation. Abya River has become so low in level and the climatic condtion and ecology of the area has been highly affcted due to the diversion of the falls.
So it wonders me why the international community and the so-called environmental NGOS and their Ethiopian surrogates such as Alemayehu G. Mariam are so concerned about the building of Gibbe III project negative social and environmental impacts while many Amhara people around Lake Tana are highly affected by the diversion of Tana Lake water.

The local community have no acces to electricity either.
The construction of a tunnel at Lake Tana completely changes the relationship of water and land destroying the existing ecosystem balance which has taken thousands of years to create.

Above all the diversion of the waters of Lake Tana is not going to occur without dire environmental impacts.
In spite of the naked truth, persons from the English and French joint venture (PB Power Howard Humphrey (UK) and Coyne et Bellier (Fr)) would tell lies without scruple. They schemed for the detriment of Lake Tana.
In their so called feasibility project they have foreseen:
“ The study concluded that unlike other hydropower projects with big dams, Tis Abay II would have negligible impact on the environment, and that it would economically very attractive for investment.”
THe Blue Nile Fall has gone forever.
Tana Lake will also dry like Haramaya very soon.
As the lake is very shallow.

No Ethiopian elite and no so-called Ineternational enviromental protection Organizations have ever condemned the Tana Beles projekt.

Land grab around Lake Tana for Flower farm production using chemical herbicides and fertlizers is not an ecological problem for Ethiopian elites and their Oversea patrons.
The Blue Nile falls forming the thundering waters and clouds of spray with their attendant rainbows is one of the most attractive destination for ecotourism in Godjam and Gonder provinces of Ethiopia.
However,Hodam and very ignorant Amharas of these region who are collaborating with Woyane Tigre are responsible for the ecological disaster of Lake Tana.

The electricity generated from Tana Beles and Tekeze river will be exported to the Sudan.
The people if the region are still using wood to cook and Gasolin to light their housses.

The drying of the Blue Nile Falls and the recent completion a tunnel which diverts all the waters of Lake Tana to Beles hydropower have a devastating consequences for the nascent tourist industry.
Beles Hydropower does not bring progress but environmental and social devastation.

Quite contrary to the existing fact in Lake Tana and Blue Nile falls, the building of Gibbe III dam does not at all have any enviromental impact on Lake Turkana and the region. When the flow of the Omo river is controlled, it will then eradicate the annual flooding which is resulting terrible catastrophe.
The nagative campaign on Gibbe III project by western Organizations such as International Rivers and Survival International is merely a conspiracy to keep Ethiopians in darkness.

The damned people are around Lake Tana and the blue Nile Falls.

Zurga
the great
Ejolee Sebeta


03/19/12 @ 13:29
Comment from: ETH [Visitor]
ETH

Come on Ethiopians! What’s going on? Is this how a professor should help his country? I’m really sorry for what many Ethiopians, especially Diaspora, which are better educated, better updated with the current world, and hence with a lot of experience, are yet as less productive as never before.

03/19/12 @ 13:48
Comment from: Taye [Visitor]
Taye

The most negative thinker, he always criticize everthing that comes from Ethiopia .

03/19/12 @ 14:08
Comment from: Alemu [Visitor]
Alemu

@Taye,

May I add to your great observation…

.. worships everything that come from the white man!

03/19/12 @ 17:31
Comment from: Land Sell for QUICK CASH [Visitor]
Land Sell for QUICK CASH

Thank you the amazing Professor for agonizing all those immoral greedy Woyane wolves.

The Woyane regime is the most dangerous regime for Ethiopia. It is in a mission to destroy humans, animals, land and plants.

There must be a Madagascar style movement to throw out this dangerous Woyane blood sucking leeches.

Reading your article has become Woyane wolves duty. They are out of their wood work glued to their commuters and watching for every article so they could post their idiotic and unintelligent comments. Hopefully a drop of knowledge will pierced in their hard scull along the way.

03/19/12 @ 18:46
Comment from: Belaue [Visitor]
Belaue

Tired of this So-called-Professor

Ethiopia needs more teachers engineers doctors scientists etc.

Not these stupid wanna be politicians that think they know everything. Its exactly people like Prof AL that are holding us back. Thats why I’m geeting my masters in engineering and will return home to help build my country instead of tearing it down. YES, human rights free press democracy etc are important, BUT LOOK AROUND!!!!!! The wicked whites have fooled you into believing that they really care about these issues. ARE YOU THAT BLIND. WAKE UP!!!!! LOOK AT IRAQ, LOOK AT AFGHANISTAN, LOOK AT YOUR OWN COUNTRY (USA) TURNING INTO A POLICE STATE INFRONT OF YOUR EYES.

Ethiopia and Ethiopians are moving forward without you. Don’t expect forgiveness when the US DOLLAR collapses and you come crawling back to your motherland which u have betrayed over and over.

OH, if you dont believe me about the dollar collapsing and police state. GOOGLE the FEDERAL RESERVE BANK and reseach how the US system realling works, or doesn’t work as you will witness VERY SOON.

03/19/12 @ 21:18
Comment from: DREDWA ETHIOPIA [Visitor]
DREDWA ETHIOPIA

Talk about being the great Example for Disapora? Here you have one TL Ras SHEFAFA AL MAREEA. Who cares what you m f….you think’ you are one sell out banda NEKERSA for mam ETHIOPIA.

ETHIOPIA TIKDEM

ENDE AYNETU NEKRSA YTFA LE ZELALEM .


03/19/12 @ 22:41
Comment from: enough [Visitor]
enough

Weekely satir show on Nazret presented by an artist known Al.
PS. Is the a live show somewhere in DC area hosted by comedian Al?

03/19/12 @ 23:52
Comment from: Hanfere [Visitor]
Hanfere

Al-Mariam Yanguli Barraw!
Al-Mariam Herreyaw
Al-Mariam Ankel sukte?
Americal Suugsuga sukte!
Afeworki Askari Barraw!
Al-Mariam Habuli

03/20/12 @ 00:20
Comment from: john john [Visitor]
john john

Cry louder and louder like hungry and desperate dog at te end no one will stop the unstoppbanle of Ethiopian bright dream.

03/20/12 @ 00:29
Comment from: Gobez [Visitor]
Gobez

Professor Alemayehu,
I thought you would write about your master Ato Esayas Afework regarding the recent military action by Ethiopia. However, you tried to swim in untried waters. Since when have you become an Environmentalist or Anthropologist? Are you kidding me? Everyone knows you have the skill to write long and non-sense columns. However, you are miles away to stand and be compared to the known Scientist Dr. Tewolde Gebre Egziabher. He doesn’t talk trash but he contributes his share and serves his country and people. I’m not surprised by your diatribe and vitriolic attack on people who don’t agree with your philosophy. Man, we need to build more dams for hydropower generation, irrigation, and water supply. Why don’t you ask how many dams are in the state of California only? Give us a break!!!

03/20/12 @ 01:38
Comment from: omo [Visitor]
omo

We were lamenting that we could not use our rivers because of Egypt and Britain. Should we lament today because we are using them? There is something weird about that. It does not hold water.

I condemn the regime on many issues, but not for the sake of condemning, and surely not because it is building dams and roads.

There are many ways to win friends and influence people. Condemning Ethiopia’s development, wherever it might come from, is not the way. If you people do not support growth, what would you suggest you would do for Ethiopia, when you come to power? Come on, be serious, do not shoot a blank bullet.

Even though growth comes at a price, and the world is paying ecologically today, the price of Western and Asian industrial development, Ethiopians cannot be the eco-sensitive poor. The indigenous people of the Omo valley will not be losers on all points. They will gain something out of the whole business.

Let us not applaud the rich that have become eco-sensitive because they are tired of their luxury and they want to continue to see the poor and the retched with whom they can compare themselves, and can feel that they are the chosen people of god, people of higher intellect and value. We are tired of their hypocrisy and double standard.

I stand for development. Away with poverty and backwardness. Ethiopia should not continue to be the bad example of the poorest country on earth. Enough with that.

03/20/12 @ 04:23
Comment from: seble [Visitor]
seble

Words fail me to express my gratitude to this distinguished professor. He was so gifted and has all rounded personality. I think it does not take to him an average time to learn something and philosophizing what he had learned. He is torching the agazi cadres every Monday. Really I like Monday to see those agazi has been set on fire

03/20/12 @ 04:30
Comment from: Belew [Visitor]
Belew

Are you sure, you are proffessor? What is the use of going to school?! You wasted your time on schooling my dear. For this kind of dedeb atsatsaf betam tekit becha yebeka neber.

DEDEB!!!!Lehodeh bech menor betam yekefal!!

03/20/12 @ 09:09
Comment from: Adenagir [Visitor]
Adenagir

It looks like the man has lost his moral and brain beyond the point of reversion!!!! Go get help!

03/20/12 @ 14:47
Comment from: kifle [Visitor]
kifle

I have been reading most of your articles posted on Nazret in the past few years and it has always amazed me that you have never seen anything that remotely looks positive in what is happening in Ethiopia. You began your present article by declaring your alarm at the increasing pace of deforestation/desertification that is taking place in our country. I am sure that you know that the increase in the population, the inefficient (slashes and burn) agricultural practices and the lack of alternative fuels to replace wood and charcoal burning are the contributors, if not the major causes of the phenomenon. The Ethiopian governments attempt at solving this crisis, along with improving the education, the agriculture and the health services in the country, is by increasing the availability of electricity. The powers that be might have chosen the wrong river, the wrong valley or the wrong lake (as doers unlike just talkers sometimes make wrong decisions) to build a dam and generate power. You could have at least put a small positive spin on the general direction the government is taking while still complaining about the actual site where Gilgel Gibe III(GGIII) is being built.
You talk about dictators and the white elephant projects that they put up for self aggrandizement – but it is really absurd – and you know it too - to read you comparing the GGIII with a Cathedral built by Sengor and a grand hotel erected by Bokassa.
When GGIII is completed, you are right there will be some negative environmental impact and a few hundreds of thousands will be temporarily affected. Since most of the inhabitants of the lower Omo river are hand-to-mouth pastoralists/farmers practicing the most “primitive” form of agriculture, the economic loss to the area from building the dam will not be as “massive” as you have described it.
I am sure that most of us ”educated” Ethiopians both at home and in the Diaspora may be three or four generations removed from people who lived a similar life to the ones now living in the Omo valley. I also am sure that none of us would like to go back in time and want to live that kind of life. I am not saying the Omo residents are not living a happy and fulfilling life – but it is the duty of the country’s leaders to see what is there in the outside world and do their best to bring up the standard of living of the people to where other countries have reached. And once the people you are trying to strongly defend get the taste of an alternative lifestyle, I am sure, just like us, would not want to go back to their subsistence life style.
Finally, we should all try our best to make sure that the people who will be displaced by this project would get their proper “compensation” including increased opportunities in education, health care and employment. A few of the children growing up under this new arrangement and who will take advantage of the improved opportunities could grow up and become very proficient but inconsequential writers like you - but that is a risk we will have to take.

03/20/12 @ 15:59
Comment from: Ethiopia In Danger [Visitor]
Ethiopia In Danger

Great article Professor. I thank and admire your relentless effort to teach and change Ethiopia for the good.

I see so many Woyane thugs on this forum That means they are scared of this intelligent Professor. He is making them lose ends.

They want to pretend as bored yet they are forced to read and place their comment. If they keep reading and following this kind Profess ore’s intelligent topic they eventually start to learn and get wiser before they knew it. Then they will convert.

03/20/12 @ 17:06
Comment from: brooks [Member]  
brooks

This is over the top proposition.

This is just cold elitism.

03/20/12 @ 21:50
Comment from: isreal [Visitor]  
isreal

Thee self appointed “Journalist” and “Envirnmentalist", when he run out of any thing useful he start quoting Survival International and it’s twin sister River International whose mission is to keep Africa particularly Ethiopia in the dark.
No one in the right mind will do what this so called “professor” is doing aganist his own country he is a “rapist “who don’t ashamed laying down with his own mother.
The glove is came off long time ago and his supporters start questioning what this man realy stand for,it is not hard to find out that he is against Ethiopia and its people.

03/20/12 @ 22:25
Comment from: john john [Visitor]
john john

Amhara Prince you really nailed it perfect i agree with you 100%.

03/21/12 @ 00:26
Comment from: Heny [Visitor]
Heny

Is this so called professor an Ethiopian in the first place? Lets track his geneology.

03/21/12 @ 04:42
Comment from: Favioli [Visitor]
Favioli

Amhara Princess,
“Looking for the next article” of Big Al?????????????
I would rather wait for the Warrior Queen’s!!!!!!! You hear me, Cést Moi????

03/21/12 @ 04:54
Comment from: Denver>co [Visitor]
Denver>co

Dear Professor Alemayehu,you copy this article from somene and you pretend as if it is yours. it is embaresing. the below is one of the link that the professor forget to aknowledge.
http://www.internationalrivers.org/node/4300
God bless ethiopia

03/21/12 @ 08:20
Comment from: Favioli [Visitor]
Favioli

On Big Al, Gelgels I, II III and the Three Gorges Dam………
With friends like Big Al (Almaria, ha ha ha..), who needs enemies?!!! I simply abhor every deed of the Woyane government, it’s dismantling of the provinces to create Bantustans, the corruption, it’s meanness, brutality and hatred of the very country it tramples on…but now I am beginning to feel that I hate (even though hate is not in me, by nature) this lunatic Big Al more than these vermin’s who are tearing our nation apart, at the seams…Can Nazret do us a big favour by just simply dumping the scribbling of this schizophrenic, or even much better would be, if the “visitors” in unison, would just stop reacting to whatever he may post. How about that?? You see, the problem is that he needs to post his deranged messages, and the reactions he get, it matters little what they may be, and the attention he draws are what he craves for, what he lives on, for it is his breath of life…and if you block that he will shrivel and wither away and disappear from this site and probably go to other sites to irritate others to death, i.e. if at all he is already not doing that!!. Big Al needs your reactions, your praises and even insults, curses and condemnations a million times more than you need his “articles”. It is just as simple as that….try it once and see the result, for you shall only restore your peace of mind.
To come to these business of Gelgels I II etc, they are to be cheered, not condemned. What the motives of this evil government are for persuing these goals, God only knows, for we know how they feel about the nation, as it was!! The question of building of dams is almost as old as written history …soon after the rise of the Mohammedan plague in the then land of Messir (Egypt) an Ethiopian king of the northern regions wrote a warning letter to the corrupt pasha that he “wouldn’t hesitate to dam and block the flow of the Nile and scorch his arid land unless he stops harassing the Christian Habesha pilgrims to Jerusalem “(Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia: Paul B. Henze). Then only the wherewithal’s were missing but not the will for building dams. Now that it is happening, one must appreciate it, at least for the good of the people who live there. All this shouting by so-called human rights groups, friends of Big Al, this or that etc on the lack of detailed and rigorous risk analysis, feasibility studies prior to all, risks to indigenous folks and idyllic pastoral lifestyle etc are hidebound clamour of interest groups who don’t even want us on this planet at all. When China built the Three Gorges Dam for uncountable amount of money, sweats, human lives and tears…with millions displaced, hundreds of towns and village bulldozed, with a significant cloud of possible disaster still hanging in everyone’s thoughts, no one would even dare utter a single word against it. I know the whole story for I have followed it from the start, read and watched all documentaries on it. But now it is brightening up many cities, factories, farms etc etc and all clapping of hands! But the massive Three Gorges on the mighty Yangtze is one thing, and our Gilgels are quite another, peanuts by comparison of cost, volume of inputs and outputs, etc etc but still significant enough to make changes in the lives of so many of our people. About the Malaria that is endemic!! Even without these dams it has and will always be endemic until and unless the area can be sprayed regularity, as is all along the full length of the southern states of the USA, which by the way costs more than a billion dollars a year. Get the point Big Al????
Anyway I am never going to react on anything Big Al posts and I advise and even appeal to all to follow suit, for your own good at least, and mine too.. I would certainly advise certain esteemed visitors from “looking foreword to Big Al’s next article".
Do me a favour please…
Cheers……

03/21/12 @ 10:24
Comment from: Taye [Visitor]
Taye

@Denver, thank you for your information. As you stated this article is extracted from below website with out any change but source is not mentioned.
http://www.internationalrivers.org/node/4300

03/21/12 @ 22:25
Comment from: mesfin_b [Member]  
mesfin_b

I have noticed majority of the bloogers had opposed Professor Alemayehu. In reality he has not told any lie. In fact he is writing what is being observed over the whole African continent. The incompetency to have a positive result may have to be atributed to the power that rules the individual nations. Let us see Nigeria, which is reaping income from oil export. Yet we have not seen a substantial socioeconomic progress when compared let us say with some southeast asian nations. It may have to do with the fact no European country would like to see a “genuine economic development” in any subsaharan africa with the exception of SouthAfrica. The Congo Dam project debacle may even be a tistimony to such suspicion that I have with the Europeans sinister mind.

03/22/12 @ 15:22
Comment from: seyoum [Visitor]  
seyoum

he is more american than ethiopian.
asafhari.

zms.

03/22/12 @ 21:26

rebtel

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