Located Southwest of Addis Ababa on the Omo River, the Gibe 3 dam is being built for hydropower generation purpose, that will more than double electricity provision in Ethiopia and for export. The dam will affect an area characterized by conflict rooted in food and water insecurity.See more...
The Omo River is in fact a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of indigenous farmers, herders and fishermen, who depend on its nourishing floods to sustain their most reliable sources of food. Construction began in 2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopias own laws on environmental protection and procurement practices, and the national constitution. The projects US$1.7 billion contract was awarded without competition to Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the projects integrity. As of early 2012, the dam was reportedly half complete.
The construction of the dam violates the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and it does not comply with any of the seven strategic priorities of theWorld Commission on Dams. Moreover, in violation of the Ethiopian Constitution, the affected communities were not properly consulted and have not received any information about the project being implemented on their land.
The lack of democratic space in Ethiopia prevents project affected people, local NGOs and academics to openly express criticisms against the Gibe 3 project, in fear of government-sanctioned retaliation.
“We expect to start filling the reservoir in few months and begin dry commissioning afterwards,” Fekahmed Negash, boundary and transboundary rivers affairs director at the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, stated . Fekahmed rejected a renewed call by the World Heritage Site Committee asking Ethiopia not to fill the dam ‘until a comprehensive social and environmental study of the developments is completed’. “Building the dam is our sovereign right. Telling us to suspend the construction amounts to trampling this right,” Fekahmed said.
The government of Ethiopia is now seeking international financing to complete the Gibe 3 Dam, and has submitted official funding requests to the Italian Government, to the European Investment Bank, to the World Bank and to the African Development Bank.
The 1,870 MW Gibe III hydropower plant is expected to nearly double Ethiopia’s current power generating capacity. Ethiopia plans to export a portion of that electricity to Kenya with a power purchase agreement already signed between the two neighboring countries.