June 14, 2011

Grave threat to Lake Turkana: Gilgel Gibe 3 dam!

StopGibe3 campaign- Save Lake Turkana Save Humanity  http://www.stopgibe3.org/
Sign the petition. Our rights, Our waters, Our people.
By Grace Wanjuki

We have all seen it in the news and we all know from history that Northern Kenya is a fragile and vulnerable Ecosystem faced with many a challenges occasioned by climate change, poverty, malnutrition, bad politics and tribal conflicts to mention but a few. Allow me to bring to your attention another of the many afflictions facing our people in the Lake Turkana basin communities; Gibe 3 dam.
Lets put things into perspective: Kenya has many power/ electricity options: Geothermal, solar, hydro-power, wind energy (Ngong hills and the recently registered Lake Turkana Wind Power-LTWP) etc. Now, feasibility and in what percentages is a discussion on another level, what is of interest though, is that we don't have enough to sufficiently supply Kenya such that we are ready to buy Electricity from our neighbour Ethiopia; who is in the process of constructing the largest hydro-electric dam in Africa in order to generate electricity for domestic use and export (1900MW; 95 per cent more power than is presently available).
This project if completed is envisioned to light up Ethiopia and its neighbours- Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan- and most importantly help Ethiopia yank its people from poverty. This is such a contradiction- since this very project will condemn 500,000 (already) marginalized Ethiopians and Kenyans to poverty by ruining their only sources of livelihood. Correct me if I’m wrong, but solving a problem with an even bigger problem is not the key to development!
Dams have quite the potential to be disastrous; now, this project is called Gibe 3 since there is Gibe 1 and Gibe 2. About 10 days after its high-profile inauguration ceremony Gibe II experienced a head-race tunnel collapse "provoked by an unforeseen geological event” ...you
assume right, repairs cost money! What's more, the same Italian contractors; Salini Costruttori 'won' the no bidding contract for Gibe 3.
L. Turkana photo from International rivers website
This project is marred by a myriad of anomalies: the tendering process was corrupt, the Environmental Impact Assessment was neither comprehensive nor independent (it was released in 2008 while the project commenced in 2006) and there was no prior and informed consent of the affected tribes/ communities among others.
"The Gibe 3 Dam is Africa's most destructive power project. It will ravage the fragile ecosystems of the Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia and Lake Turkana in Kenya, and the 500,000 poor indigenous people who depend on them," said Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers, an international NGO focusing on dams.
It is for these reasons that Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT); a Kenyan NGO, Counter Balance, Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM) and International Rivers launched a campaign to halt the Gibe 3 Dam in Ethiopia: Stop Gibe 3: http://www.stopgibe3.org/

Many people may think this is just noise from the civil societies, good news is; this noise we make has shone light to a disaster in waiting:
  1. Europe has withdrawn funding (EIB- European Investment Bank)
  2. Italy's export credit agency (SACE) has denied support to the
  3. World Bank is not financing the project (because of the Indigenous peoples
    safeguard policy and the Bank's Procurement policy)
  4. US bank is also not getting involved because of violation of environmental standards which the have previously endorsed
  5. African Development Bank has also withdrawn its support because of violation of International procurement laws
We now need to convince the Chinese; Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) who has intentions to fund, to back out as well, because Gibe 3 contradicts its core value- Environmental protection. This might actually be a test case for China's role in Africa- its environmental responsibility!

Truth is Ethiopia cannot complete the project without International support therefore, "Let's not waste development aid (US$1.75 billion) on a dodgy and destructive deal that is Gibe 3!!" Said reform the World Bank campaign.

It’s a rather sad issue, laden with hydro-politics (http://www.stopgibe3.org/pdf/The%20Gilgel%20Gibe%20Affair.pdf ) but we have to and we must stand up for what is right! Our people, our water, our rights!

To sign the petition against the completion of the destructive dam>>>
For more information:


1 comment :

  1. hello, i am a college student researching the dam for my paper for environmental policy in developing countries class. Your article was helpful.