Kenya, Ethiopia Mediating on the deadly Dam on Omo River Water Controversy

October 18, 2013 in Water Crisis

Indigenous populations at Loarengak in remote northwest Kenya surrive on fish and cattle in region where survival depends on access to water from the Omo River in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is building a hydro dam that Kenyans fear threatens Kenyan livelihoods.

Indigenous populations at Loarengak in remote northwest Kenya surrive on fish and cattle in region where survival depends on access to water from the Omo River in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is building a hydro dam that Kenyans fear threatens Kenyan livelihoods.

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David Arnold

October 16, 2013

WASHINGTON — An environmental controversy surrounding the construction of Gilgel Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia’s Highlands appears to be close to resolution. Kenyan authorities have raised concerns about the dam because it is being built along Ethiopia’s Omo River which is the major source of water for Kenya’s Lake Turkana.The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has been working with Kenyan and Ethiopian governments on developing a joint project on sustainable development of the basin.

An agreement between the two water ministries may be signed in November, said an official for UNEP in Nairobi. The draft agreement proposes joint management of all natural resources in Lake Turkana and its river basin which extends upstream into Ethiopia.

Lake Turkana defenders in Kenya anticipate an agreement could save the lake.

Turkana Lake, Gibe III Hydroelectric ProjectTurkana Lake, Gibe III Hydroelectric Project

At issue is the question of whether Ethiopia’s Gilgel Gibe 111 dam will drain upstream waters to irrigate large plantations on the Ethiopia side of the border, a move that Kenya fears will critically damage Lake Turkana, 675 kilometers downstream.  More than 80 percent of the Kenyan lake’s waters come from the Omo in Ethiopia and water levels in the lake could drop by as much as 10 meters once the dam is operational. Lake Turkana is also a World Heritage site where some of earliest evidence of man has been found and is currently home to thousands of fishermen and others who use the lake waters for their livestock.

“Our big concern is the water levels of Lake Turkana,” said Thomas Wildman, Horn of Africa director for Oxfam Great Britain. “The big question is whether Ethiopia is going to release all the water from the dam once they’ve drawn it for hydro or if they’re going to keep any of that water.”

Irrigation a major concern for Kenya

The Gilgel Gibe III is the third of three dams to be built on the Omo River and its tributaries that run south and empty into Lake Turkana across the Kenyan border. Recent Ethiopian proposals to divert Omo waters for irrigation of a major sugar plantation in the basin have alarmed officials in the administration President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“For the first time this year, the president of Kenya actually accepted that the dam has an impact on Lake Turkana,” said Akil Angelei, president of The Friends of Lake Turkana. “After years of back and forth, UNEP is trying to convene meetings to look at a way forward on the issue.”

As part of its development strategy Ethiopia is seeking to become a major source of global sugar. It is building 10 new refineries and devoting another 5 million hectares to growing sugarcane.  South Omo is to host six of those factories and half of the plantation lands.

Oxfam said the Omo River dam construction – originally identified as a hydroelectric project – is now viewed as “quite a large-scale irrigation project which could really reduce the levels and create an ecological impact on the fish populations which are a primary sources of livelihood for the people on the lake and on the floodplain for livestock.”

“We know that Ethiopia’s main drive had been not just hydro but irrigation,” said Angelei, “so we are trying highlight that we need them to look at what the entire basin needs.”

Thousands displaced by the dam 

Another issue of concern surrounding construction of the Gilgel Gibe III dam is the displacement of people.  Claudia Carr at the University of California at Berkeley reported that large numbers of Mursi people in the north of the basin and Dasanech groups along the eastern shore have already been removed by the Ethiopia government. The Dasanech occupy the northern and eastern shores of the lake and straddle both countries. Gabbra and Turkana groups live to the south and west of the lake.

More than a dozen indigenous tribes have lived in the basin for centuries, raising cattle and goats and fishing the lake. Some estimates say that beyond the 20,000 who depend directly on the lake’s waters, more than 200,000 Kenyans and Ethiopians would be impacted by a drop in lake waters.

Cattle raids and tribal clashes are frequent among the tribes such as the Rendille.  Many who study the region are concerned that reduced water flows will increase competition for water and lead to increased clashes.  Rights groups have reported that in Ethiopia many villagers been removed to provide up to 300,000 hectares in South Oromo for proposed sugar and cotton plantations.

An early champion of Lake Turkana, Kenyan paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey said four years ago that the Gilgel Gibe III was based on flawed studies and “the dam will produce a broad range of negative effects, some of which would be catastrophic to both the environment and the indigenous communities living downstream.”

The ongoing debate focuses on an under-populated desert region where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan – and the disputed Ilema Triangle – meet. Recent news of the satellite-based discovery of a vast network ofsubterranean aquifers holding 250 billion cubic meters of fresh water could boost the fortunes of this drought-prone corner of Kenya but will not impact the future of Lake Turkana. Now the fate of the region depends on the ability of Kenya and Ethiopia to jointly manage the waters of the Omo River in the Turkana basin.

 

Turkana the only desert lake inhabitants mobilizing against the Ethiopian Water Dictator Melese Zenawie damming up river

May 18, 2011 in Damming, Turkanas against damming

The Kenyans are learning from the spirit of Chileans recent uprising in Andes region to stop the construction of Mega dams are now preparing to fight  the Ethiopian mad dictator and their rulers  from drying out Lake Turkana and exterminating the riparian Omotic population.  The Gibe dams on Omo River have a direct responsibility for the drought and the conflict in the Lake Turkana region between the tribes men in the region recently. Since the 2006 the date the Dams start taking  direct effect  the region which  is deprived of its annual water flow and precipitation. Drought and grazing land conflict has become a daily phenomenon due to the artificial control of the river Omo and luck of sufficient resources which used to depend entire on the river.  The Omotic population has lost its natural cycle of gazing their herds. Now the cyclic floods in the region have been stopped by the Ethiopian dictator Megalomaniac dams. Another destructive controversial project project has been prepared to be building on the Nile which will cease the cyclic flooding of the Nile in Egypt too. The Water dictator must be stop before he killed millions around the Horn of Africa by undo control of the rare floods.

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The true leaders of democratically elected northern Kenya MPs have vowed to stop the construction of Gibe III hydroelectric power in Ethiopia. Joseph Lekuton(Laisamis) Ekwee Ethuro(Turkana Central), Chachu Ganya (North Horr) and Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth called on the people of Loiyangalani to back their protests  to stop Ethiopia’s power plans. “The contract signed between the Kenyan and Ethiopia government to supply us with electricity should be revoked. People are dying due to lack of resources provided by the waters of Lake Turkana,” Lekuton said.”There is enough wind and solar that can generate electricity for the Turkana people. We do not need to sign a contract with our neighbor so that they can supply us with electricity while we are capable of generating our own,” he added. Ganya said: “Gibe dam will be fought to the end” Ethiopia too must use wind, solar and thermal energy than damming the rivers and kill starve million in riparian countries. We have seen recently the conflict  has already sparked in northern Kenya as  direct effect of the Damming in Ethiopia.

Gibe III is in its final construction stages though it was stopped by the recent collapse of the 26 meter tunnel built in the fault seismic  tectonic lines . Gibe III is the last  generation of hydroelectric power on the Omo River in Ethiopia which  will dry up  Lake Turkana for good. Since  Omo River drains its waters into Lake Turkana, the biggest desert lake in the world. This death dam once completed it would be the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa with a power output of about 1870 Megawatts which has no immediate utility in Ethiopia except exporting it to Kenya   with a direct  quenceqence   eradicating its population in Lake Turkana.

As of July 2010, the project was 38% complete drastically stopped due to the tunnel collapse. The completion of the  Gibe II Death Dam  was scheduled for July 2013. Full commissioning is scheduled for June 2013 after the reservoir is filled with water and the plant completed. Local and international environmentalists have raised concerns over the negative social and economic impacts of the dam.

Ethiopia’s plan to build Gibe III Dam now threatens food security and local economies that support more than half a million people in southwest Ethiopia and along the shores of Lake Turkana.

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Turkana South MP Josephat Nanok urged locals to “choose the right leaders” especially after the recent attack of Turkana people in Todonyang at the Kenyan- Ethiopian border. The MPs made their plans known at the fourth Lake Turkana festival at Loiyangalani at the weekend.

The Ethiopian dictator must be stopped before creating undue havoc  by constructing mega dams which are destructive to human and environments of the region. Ethiopia and Kenya does not need a mega dams rather sleeping turbines or  dams at human level rather than having inhuman  megalomaniac ones. It advisable  to have  many small level  dams to furnish the meager deeds of  electricity  agricultural Ethiopia  if we have to build one . But it is advisable to  completely to abandon the spirit of Dam in the region with a fragile Sahelian dry ecosystem. Ethiopia is endowed with thermo and wind power to be exploited. If Ethiopian dictator  continue damming  Omo river the already diminishing  Lake Turkana will surely dry up…

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Geothermal Power

The recent Kenyan Geothermal installation is the best example to be followed by the Ethiopian dictator who is trying to dam all the life giving water of Eastern Africa including Egypt. Ethiopia Addis Ababa the capital  itself  is sitting in geothermal energy, but it needs a  democratic leadership   to solve the shortage of the city’s black out  provoked by the dictator himself.  this just to have a support of its death dams from the suffering population of the African capital of  over 5 million inhabitants.

 

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Solar Tower Energy

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Wind Turbine

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