Wednesday, March 13, 2013

No room for baseless allegations of International Rivers (by SAMUEL TAYE)

(Mar 13, 2013, (Addis Ababa))--Any country whether developed or developing, has full right to invest on its natural resources in accordance with international laws for sustainable development. Specially, it is critically important for the developing nations to make use of their indigenous resources in a bid to get out of poverty. Resources such as water, mineral, energy, among others are to be well – exploited wisely in a well-established scientific studies in order to avert any possible risk that may pose threat both to human being and natural environment.

To this effect, Ethiopia is undertaking several mega projects that hugely assist the achievement of the national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) and thereby supporting the campaign towards sustained poverty alleviation. The Grand Renaissance Dam and Gilgel Gibe III dam are among the main projects underway that generate electricity with the capacity around 8,000 mega watts both.

However, various international organizations like International Rivers, and other environmentalists enviously report that the Gibe III hydro-power project will have social and environmental impacts. They further suggest citing various studies that the knock-on effects of the impending ecological crisis on the security of the 'volatile' border region of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan. As to their reports, Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, almost completely depends on the inflows from the Omo River, and that the lake’s unique ecosystems and fisheries are closely linked to the river’s annual flood cycle.

On the other hand, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs argues that the Government has underlined the social benefits of the Gilgel Gibe III dam and associated developments are extensive and, yes, there will certainly be some impact on the people of the Lower Omo Valley, as with any major development project anywhere in the world. Indeed, this is the reason the government has been careful. In line with that the government has made rigorous environmental studies that has met international standards. The findings of these studies as well as the mitigation measures have, therefore, been carefully explored and explained in advance to all stakeholders. 

More importantly, the findings have also proved the fact that the project has no environmental shocks as the antagonizing elements are blowing. Conversely, the regulated flow of the water will make the people advantageous in controlling flood. The government is also working to ensure the provision of infrastructural development such as: schools, health centers and clinics and availability of jobs to the people in the downstream.

The International Rivers (IR) in its recent report released with the title ‘Ethiopian Dam Threatens to Turn Lake Turkana into East Africa's Aral Sea’ says that the environmental impacts, which include a huge drop in the lake’s level, could lead to a collapse local livelihoods, and foment insecurity in the already conflict-ridden Horn of Africa.

There is a lack of evidence for other claims made including the issue of the water levels of Lake Turkana. Last year, critics of the project were suggesting the fall in lake level would actually be at least ten meters and even considerably more – the average depth of the lake is thirty meters. However, according to almost all the environmental studies carried out on the project, any fall is more likely to be a matter of two or three meters at most, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

It is evident that members of the Donor Advisory Group (DAG) in Ethiopia, for example, have been watching the resettlement projects and developments in the Omo Valley closely. Their most recent visit to the Omo Valley was in August last year when representatives of eight countries, including six ambassadors, spent several days in the area meeting senior regional officials, local authorities, and local communities. 

They were looking specifically at the ongoing commercial agricultural developments, their implementation and consequences for local communities, as well as discussing the consequences of the Gilgel Gibe III dam and the wider environmental, social, cultural, and economic effects on the lives of local traditional communities. So where do the worries of the doomsayers lie?

In the first place, these people, the ‘International Rivers’ and their allies have already drawn the portrait of Horn of Africa as if the region were to remain conflict-ridden, poor, aid dependent forever. These people also fail to understand that the region is presently building common values, consolidating bilateral ties and people- to- people diplomacy than ever before. They seem to have forgotten the strong organizations such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) which work for common societal, economic and political interest, unity and integration.

To the contrary, they wish to impose their neo-liberal ideology on Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular through various ill-formed mechanisms mainly the so-called scientific studies. They wish Ethiopia to remain poor, aid dependent and unstable country.

Jackie King, professor emeritus of the Institute of Water Studies at the University of Western Cape, says: “It is not yet too late to complete a trans-boundary environmental flow assessment that will allow both countries to see the costs and benefits of a number of options for designing and operating this dam (including a no dam option). The two countries could then negotiate a future development pathway based on these options that both could accept. It would have to be done very soon, before the dam is completed.” what is the intention of this person? 

The dam is now nearly two thirds complete. So, how dare he claims 'a no dam option'? It must be insanity. This is the right time for Ethiopian people and government to aggressively battle against poverty through appropriate exploitation of resources that nature has already offered in collaboration with international partners and neighbouring countries.

It is not a time to be threatened by a deliberate attack by the people who call themselves environmentalists or whatever. No ear to listen to the false allegations and baseless accusations. Poor speculations are still theorized; for instance, 'Ethiopia is an important friend and partner of China – but so is Kenya. Once the dam and irrigation projects are complete, China may find itself at the center of an escalating conflict, which does not serve its interests in the region,' by another paper that the International Rivers liked to cite to support their allegations. 

“The destruction of Turkana, if it proceeds, will become as notorious as that of the Aral Sea- a shrunken lake lying between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south-, tainting all those who perpetuate it,” the paper further warns. 

Kenyan delegates, however, visited the Gilgel Gibe III dam one and half year ago. They said that the dam has no any impact on lake Turkana, even it is quite pivotal to curb Kenya's power shortage that Ethiopia would sell after the completion of the project. So, who can be more witness other than these two countries?
Source: The Ethiopian Herald

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great, it is time to completely ignore the so called Westerners.
I have doubt that they are crying for Africa as they have never done that.
Africans and Asians must unit and work hard to boost their economy.
It is time to be independent of Western Financial companies like IMF and World Bank.
The IMF and World Bank will soon be replaced by other financial institutions like banks that will be setup by BRICS. The time will soon come when African Governments will say to hell to western led financial institutions. Then they will shut up!

Melew Wordofa

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