NGO opposes African Development Bank support for $1.7b Gibe Dam in Ethiopia

13 05 2009

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

An environmental  and human rights non-governmental group,  International Rivers has expressed opposition to the construction of the Gibe 3 Dam in Ethiopia.

In a press release from its Carlifonia, US base and copied to, the group’s protest is preceding the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s two-day Annual Meeting in Senegal from May 13 to 14, 2009.

The AfDB’s meeting is under the theme  “Africa and the Financial Crsis: an Agenda for Action.”

The group argues that while the global financial crisis calls for wise investment of dwindling capital flows, Directors of the AfDB are considering funding a project that serves special interests but “hurts the poor and the environment.” International Rivers refers to the project as “the disastrous $1.7 billion Gibe 3 Dam in Ethiopia.”

According to the release, Gibe 3 would be one of the largest infrastructure projects ever funded by the AfDB.

Through its devastating social and environmental impacts, the project would spread war and famine in a region that is already affected by climate change. By funding Gibe 3, the group says, the AfDB would squander scarce resources and undermine its claim to become Africa’s premier infrastructure financier.

The group insists that if built, the dam will wreak havoc with the Omo River’s natural flood cycle, and will reduce food security of up to half a million poor farmers, herders and fishers.

Gibe 3 will affect ecosystems and disrupt communities all the way to the world’s largest desert lake, Kenya’s Lake Turkana. An oasis of biodiversity in a harsh desert, Lake Turkana supports 300,000 people and rich animal life. The Gibe 3 Dam would severely curtail the lake’s inflow, reduce water levels, increase salinity, affect fisheries and push the lake’s vulnerable ecosystem to the brink of collapse, it said.

International Rivers states that together with a Kenyan NGO, Friends of Lake Turkana and an NGO coalition they have already submitted two complaints regarding Gibe 3 to the AfDB’s independent investigative unit. The complaints assert that the project violates five binding AfDB policies.

Ms. Ikal Angelei, the Friends of Lake Turkana chairperson, will be in Senegal for the AfDB meetings, the release said.

The group claims that construction of the Gibe 3 Project began in 2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopia’s laws on environmental protection and procurement.

The contract was awarded without competitive bidding to Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the project’s integrity. Project impact assessments were prepared after construction began and disregard the project’s most serious consequences, it added.

International Rivers is part of a global coalition are therefore, demanding that the Bank only finance projects that comply with its social and environmental standards and host country laws. Consideration of Gibe 3 should be suspended until a thorough review and consultations with all affected peoples have taken place.

The AfDB, International Rivers says, should in the meantime, help Ethiopia drought-proof its energy sector, diversify its energy mix, and tap its abundant renewable energy resources.

Source: Ghana Business News




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