The Ethiopian Rift valley extending from the Afar Vally down to the Omo river passing to the Lake Turkna ( Rudelf) up unto lake Victoria. This is a tectonic plate separation point breaking the Horn of Africa from the rest of the continent. One cannot build a Dams (Gebe I Gebe II Gebe III) connecting these breaking plates. Recently the Gebe II dam’s tunnel of 26 kilometer collapsed from this movement. The government of Ethiopia is continuing its project and throwing money in these futile project and destroying the lives of over half a million Ethiopians & Kenyans down the river . The dam could collapse any time with these unexpected movement endangering over half a million lives .
Dramatic Geologic Activity in East Africa
A New Ocean Will Eventually Form as Tectonic Plates Split Apart
The huge, brittle tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust normally move only a few centimeters per year, not fast enough to be noticeable in a human lifetime. However, in the East African Rift Valley, this tectonic motion is happening with remarkable speed.
The East African Rift System
The East African Rift System is the most extensive continental rift zone on Earth, as well as one of the most active geologic regions. Stretching more than 6,000 km (3,700 miles), it begins in Lebanon and Syria to the north, proceeds along the Red Sea where it marks the boundary between the African and Arabian Plates, and continues through to Mozambique in the south.
The area of east Africa is defined by extremes. Volcanic activity along the Great Rift Valley has produced some of the world’s highest mountains, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, while the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the lowest points on the planet.
The Afar Triangle, which includes north-eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and the southern Red Sea region of Eritrea, is the location of a tectonic triple junction where three tectonic plates meet. These three plates are moving away from each other due to an upwelling of magma from the mantle, which melts the crust and causes it to thin and pull apart. The phenomenon is similar to that which occurs at the mid-ocean ridges, where hot magma rises up and pushes the oceanic crust out to each side in the process of seafloor spreading, but it is rarely observed on Earth’s surface.
The African Plate is Tearing Apart, Forming a New Plate and Ocean Basin
Recent tectonic activity in the East African Rift Valley has created vast fissures where the African Plate is being split into two parts. The Nubian Plate that comprises most of the African continent, and the Somalian Plate, on the eastern coast, are moving in opposite directions at what is known as a divergent plate boundary. As the plates pull apart, a new ocean will eventually form, and the Horn of Africa will separate from the rest of the continent, becoming an island.
The dam may affect the people who live around Lake Turkana
Web campaign against Ethiopia Gibe III dam
age last updated at 14:48 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010
A group of international campaigners has launched an online petition against Ethiopia’s huge Gibe III dam project.
The group wants to put pressure on Western donors and banks not to fund the dam, saying it would destroy the livelihoods of some 500,000 people.
The dam is on the Omo River, which flows from southern Ethiopia into Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.
Ethiopia’s government says the dam is needed to generate enough electricity for its population and to sell abroad.
Construction work is under way on the dam, which would be Africa’s second largest hydro-electric dam, providing some 1,800 megawatts of electricity.
But one of the groups, International Rivers, says the government still needs about $1.4bn (£930m) to finish it.
“Gibe III is the most destructive dam under construction in Africa. The project will condemn half a million of the region’s most vulnerable people to hunger and conflict,” said Terri Hathaway, director of International Rivers’ Africa programme.
The dam would flood a huge area, creating a 150km-long lake and preventing people from planting their crops on the river’s flood plains, as they have done for many generations.
Campaigners also fear that the dam would reduce the flow of water into Lake Turkana, which some 300,000 people depend on.
However, Ethiopia’s government disputes that the overall amount of water would change – they say it would just be a more regular flow throughout the year.
Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, head of Ethiopia’s Environmental Protection Authority, told the BBC the project was “very sensible”.
“The advantages for the whole country, the local communities around, even for our neighbouring countries – including Kenya -so much more outweigh the small problems that will be caused on an immediate basis but are not long-lasting.”
FLOODING EFFECT OF DAM ON OMO RIVER
Using newly gathered seismic data from 2005, researchers reconstructed the event to show the rift tore open along its entire 35-mile length in just days. Dabbahu, a volcano at the northern end of the rift, erupted first, then magma pushed up through the middle of the rift area and began “unzipping” the rift in both directions, the researchers explained in a statement today.
“We know that seafloor ridges are created by a similar intrusion of magma into a rift, but we never knew that a huge length of the ridge could break open at once like this,” said Cindy Ebinger, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochesterand co-author of the study.
The Horn of Africa is Becoming an OceanA new ocean is appearing between the Arabian and the African plate. This ocean is appearing faster than previously geological thought. A series of more than one-hundred sixty two in two weeks were the For the first time – humans were able to witness the birth of an ocean. Geologist Dereje Ayalew and his colleagues from Addis Ababa were the first to witness this up-to-the-minute experience. With a shake of the earth as soon as they arrived they were tempted to run back to the helicopter that had brought them there but in moments they were able to witness this horrific yet fascinating event. After a few moments, a dense crack in the earth appeared – an event that usually takes a lifetime to occur. This would be an amazing experience to view in a lifetime, it has been recently added to my “things to see in my lifetime” list. “In north-eastern Africa’s Afar Triangle, though, recent months have seen hundreds of crevices splitting the desert floor and the ground has slumped by as much as 100 meters (328 feet). At the same time, scientists have observed magma rising from deep below as it begins to form what will eventually become a basalt ocean floor.” “The process happening here is identical to that which created the Atlantic Ocean,” Parts of the region have sunk to nearly one-hundred meters below sea level. The red sea will soon flood this crevice, and the scientists are able to unearth what is to be the floor of the newly forming ocean. The African and the Arabian plates meet at the Afar triangle and are considered to be the largest natural construction site on the planet. The event witnessed was the first visual proof of the formation. Now, this would have been something to witness. Locals visit the site regularly and notice new cracks forming constantly. Also, fumes as hot as 400 degrees arising from the area accompanied by magma and sulfur. This is evident in the recent volcanic activity within the area. It won’t be a very long time until this area is flooded by the current red sea and becomes the youngest ocean.
Giant dam to devastate 200,000 tribal people in Ethiopia 23 March
A massive hydroelectric dam project on Ethiopia’s Omo River will devastate at least 200,000 tribal people, Survival said today.
Survival is launching an urgent campaign calling on the Ethiopian government to halt the dam (known as Gibe III), and urging potential international funders, including the Africa Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and the Italian government not to support the project.
Italian company Salini Costruttori, has been contracted to build the dam. The same company built the smaller Gibe II dam, part of which collapsed 10 days after it was opened in January.
The dam will end the Omo’s natural flood, which deposits fertile silt on the river banks, where the tribes cultivate crops when the waters recede. In a region where drought is commonplace, this will have devastating consequences for the tribes’ food supplies.
The tiny hunter-gatherer Kwegu tribe, for example, will be pushed to the brink as fish stocks will be reduced. Six Kwegu, including two children, recently died of hunger because the rains and flood failed.
The Ethiopian government plans to lease huge tracts of tribal land in the Omo Valley to foreign companies and governments for large-scale production of crops, including biofuels, which will be fed by water from the dam.
Most of the tribal people who will be affected by the dam know nothing about the project. The Ethiopian government is clamping down on tribal organizations, and last year closed down 41 local ‘community associations’, making it impossible for communities to hold meetings about the dam.
The Omo River is the primary source of Kenya’s famous Lake Turkana, which supports the lives of 300,000 people who pasture their cattle on its banks and fish there. The dam will threaten their survival too. Both the Lower Omo Valley and Lake Turkana are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Gibe III dam will be a disaster of cataclysmic proportions for the tribes of the Omo valley. Their land and livelihoods will be destroyed, yet few have any idea what lies ahead. The government has violated Ethiopia’s constitution and international law in the procurement process. No respectable outside body should be funding this atrocious project.’
Survival together with the the Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank, Counter Balance coalition, Friends of Lake Turkana and International Rivers have launched a petition to stop the dam.
Some facts on Gibe 3 dam:
1. The dam wall will be 240 metres high – the tallest dam in Africa
2. The lake formed by the reservoir will be 150 kms long
3. Estimated Cost: 1.4 billion Euros (US $1.7 billion at start of dam construction)
4. Construction started in 2006 and is due to be completed in 2012
5. The dam will provide 1,800 megawatts of electricity
The Lower Omo River in south west Ethiopia is home to eight different tribes whose population is about 200,000. They have lived there for centuries.
However the future of these tribes lies in the balance. A massive hydro-electric dam, Gibe III, is under construction on the Omo. When completed it will destroy a fragile environment and the livelihoods of the tribes, which are closely linked to the river and its annual flood.
|Hamar girls display their ornate hair and adornments.
© Eric Lafforgue/Survival
Salini Costruttori, an Italian company, started construction work on the Gibe III dam at the end of 2006, and has already built a third of it.
Soon, both the African Development Bank and the Italian government will decide whether to fund the dam project as requested by the Ethiopian government.
Survival and various regional and international organisations believe that the Gibe III Dam will have catastrophic consequences for the tribes of the Omo River, who already live close to the margins of life in this dry and challenging area.
We are calling on the African Development Bank and other potential funders not to support this project until a complete and independent social and environmental impact study is carried out and the tribal peop
‘Open the dam and let the water flow’ – desperate plea from Omo Valley 25 February
Many tribal people in the Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia are starving as the region is in the grip of a drought and the river’s annual flood has failed.
The Kwegu, a small hunter-gatherer tribe, have been badly hit. Survival has received reports that two Kwegu children and four adults died from hunger in November.
A Kwegu man sent this message: ‘Go and give this news to your elders, we Kwegu people are hungry. Other tribes have cattle, they can drink milk and blood. We don’t have cattle; we eat from the Omo River. We depend on the fish, they are like our cattle. If the Omo floods are gone we will die.’
The rains have not fallen properly for three years in the Omo Valley, home to eight different tribes and around 200,000 people. The annual flood of the Omo River, a lifeline for the region, has decreased in recent years, and in 2009 it failed completely.
A Mun tribesman said, ‘Before the flood waters would come and we would have big cultivation sites. Now, all the cultivation sites … have got no water.’
It is not clear why the rains have stopped, or why the flood failed. What is clear, is that the Gibe cascade – a series of five dams planned for the Omo River – is likely to stretch an already strained region, and its people, to breaking point.
Some Kwegu blame the dam. One said, ‘Our land has become bad. They closed the water off tight and we know hunger. Open the dam and let the water flow.’
Gibe I is already complete, damming one of the tributaries of the Omo River. The Gibe II dam blocks the same river, and recently was a major source of embarrassment for the Ethiopian government and Italian firm Salini Construttori, after part of it collapsed just ten days after opening.
The Gibe III dam is about one third complete. A 50 meter cofferdam was recently built as part of the ongoing dam construction. Some believe it may have contributed to the lack of the annual flood.
If completed, Gibe III will be the second largest hydroelectric dam in Africa.
Experts warn it will irrevocably devastate the Omo River’s flood cycle, which is crucial to the Omo Valley tribes’ livelihood and survival.
The Ethiopian government claims Gibe III, aside from generating enough electricity to power the country several times over, will increase the safety of the downstream tribes by stopping giant floods from sweeping away livestock and people. But the tribes are clear – without the annual flood, they cannot survive.
A Mun tribesman said, ‘Now that the floods are gone we have a big problem. We are afraid of death. The rainy season hasn’t come for three years. Why haven’t the rains been working all this time? Did the sky not sign his work papers? Did he forget to work?’
‘There is no singing and dancing all along the Omo River now. The people are too hungry. The kids are quiet.’
‘The big rains have been gone for three years and now, we come to the Omo and there is no water.’
Uncontacted tribes threatened by ‘thousands of explosions’ 22 March
|A Nahua man shortly after first contact in 1984. More than 50% of the Nahua died following contact.
A pioneer scientific study has revealed how some of the world’s last uncontacted tribes are threatened by ‘the detonation of thousands of seismic explosives’ on their land.
The study says that seventeen large areas in the Peruvian Amazon where oil and gas companies can work include land inhabited by uncontacted Indians.
The potential impacts on the tribes and their land are ‘severe and extensive’, says the study. These impacts include: ‘hundreds of heliports’, ‘the cutting of hundreds of kilometres of seismic lines’, ‘the detonation of thousands of seismic explosives’, oil spills and leaks, new roads, and the ‘unique potential of advancing the agricultural, cattle and logging frontiers’, all of which could be disastrous for the tribes ‘whose lack of resistance or immunity make them extremely vulnerable to illnesses brought by outsiders.’
‘More of the Peruvian Amazon has been leased to oil and gas companies over the past four years than at any other time on record,’ says the study, published in ‘Environmental Research Letters’.
The study cites drilling in northern Peru by a British company as ‘extremely controversial’, although it does not mention the company, Perenco, by name. Perenco, which has recently revealed plans to build a pipeline into the region, is working ‘within a mega-diverse and largely intact section of the Amazon (where) there is strong anthropological evidence (of) uncontacted indigenous peoples.’
The study says that a massive 72% of the entire Peruvian Amazon is now open for exploration and drilling. Survival is campaigning against exploration in parts of the Peruvian Amazon inhabited by uncontacted tribes.
Aid for Ethiopian Dam Challenged
BRUSSELS, Jan 26 (IPS) – Financial support has been requested from the European Union for a controversial energy project in Ethiopia that could drive thousands of farmers from their land.
With a projected cost of 1.7 billion dollars, the Gilgel Gibe 3 dam is the single largest infrastructural work being undertaken in Ethiopia. At a launch ceremony Jan. 24, Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis predicted that the hydroelectricity scheme will boost efforts to reduce poverty.
Yet his upbeat assessment is disputed by environmental and social policy activists.
They predict the dam will have adverse consequences for the ecology of the Gibe-Obo river system. Although 400 nomadic pastoralists are likely to lose access to grazing lands as a result of it, locals have not been formally consulted about its effects.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has confirmed that it has received a request to loan money to the dam.
In a letter, seen by IPS, senior bank official Yvonne Berghorst said that “in order to qualify for funding, the EIB’s normal thorough project appraisal procedure would need to demonstrate that the project meets the EIB’s requirements on environmental and social standards, is technically, economically and financially viable and complies with relevant practices and standards regarding procurement.”
Doubts have been cast on whether the project would comply with international tendering rules. Salini, an Italian construction firm, was awarded a contract for the project by the Addis Ababa government, without any competition.
An EIB spokesman said that because the contract had been granted in this way, the bank would “only be able to finance things that might be subcontracted” to other companies.
“We will be looking very carefully at the project’s affordability,” the spokesman added. “Does the project make sense for the Ethiopian economy? We will look at what positive effects it will have to make a balanced decision.”
Campaigners have declined to accept this reassurance.
Magda Stockczkiewicz from Friends of the Earth’s Brussels office pointed out that the EIB had previously financed earlier phases of the dam’s construction between 1998 and 2005, even though similar problems had been observed in the awarding of contracts. A loan of more than 44 million euros (65 million dollars) was allocated to phase two, for example.
“It is in keeping with the classic EIB approach that it is not going to provide finance to all of a monster but that it is happy to finance the birth of a monster,” said Stockczkiewicz.
Set up by the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the EIB is an official EU body, which approved loans totalling more than 53 billion euros (78 billion dollars) in 2006.
Although the bank raises its capital from international markets, its mandate requires that it adheres to the Union’s policies. Under the Cotonou Agreement, a treaty signed in 2000 that lays down the legal basis for the EU’s relationship with Africa, it is obliged to ensure that any work it supports in Africa helps reduce poverty.
Gilgel Gibe 3 is considered pivotal to an Ethiopian five-year plan to generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity. Almost half that energy is to come from the project.
But the question of whether the domestic population will benefit as a result is fiercely contested, given that much of its power could be exported to Kenya.
Caterina Amicucci from the Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank in Rome said that just 6 percent of Ethiopia’s 73 million inhabitants are connected to the national electricity grid. It would be preferable, she added, to invest in improving domestic capacity than to support schemes designed to export energy.
As alternatives to Gilgel Gibe 3, campaigners are advocating a major effort to increase the supply of cooking fuels to rural communities.
Ethiopia has also been identified as having vast potential for the generation of geothermal energy – from heat stored beneath the earth’s surface – particularly in the Rift Valley.
Despite being a critic of the World Bank, Amicucci argued that the Washington-based institution is “much more advanced” than the EIB. After sustained campaigning by a wide variety of organisations, the World Bank has become more transparent and has begun insisting that correct procedures are followed before it releases money.
“Because of the procurement issue (with Gilgel Gibe 3), the World Bank’s offices in Addis Ababa have told us they can’t support this project,” Amicucci added.
Another concern being raised is that Ethiopia could struggle to pay back a large-scale loan.
In a report on Ethiopia issued last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that the granting of commercial loans to public enterprises has a “sizeable effect” on debt sustainability.
The World Bank and IMF consider the external debt of a country as sustainable when it is around 150 percent of its yearly export revenues.
According to the latest data published by the World Bank, Ethiopia has an external debt of 6 billion dollars, equivalent to one-fifth of national income.
Some 40 percent of Ethiopians live below the poverty line.
“Loans have to be paid back,” said Stockczkiewicz. “Our belief is that in such a situation, the responsibility on the donor is even greater. If they don’t look through all the pros and cons of a project before giving a loan, at the end of the day it is the country’s people that will have to pay the price.”
European bank withdraws funding from Ethiopia’s dam
, – The European Investment Bank has decided to pull back its funding for Ethiopia’s hydropower dam following pressure calls by environmentalists that the Gibe 3 Dam threatens the food security and local economies that support more than half a million people in Southwest Ethiopia.
According to the banks statement, the Euro 1.55 billion hydropower dam would devastate the ecosystems of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley and Kenya’s Lake Turkana.
The dam which is expected to be Africa’s tallest dam with the height of 240 meters and Ethiopia’s biggest investment, drew criticisms from environmentalists saying the construction will wreak havoc on the Omo River’s natural flood cycle.
The Bank’s statement further said in March 2009, Friends of Lake Turkana, a group of affected people in Kenya, urged the EIB not to fund the Gibe 3 because the affected communities could not withstand any more pressure on the little resources along the lake.
The coordinator of Friends of Lake Turkana, Ikal Angelei, said Gibe 3 Dam would lead to the ecological and economic collapse around Lake Turkana, adding that it would also fuel tension in the volatile east African region.
The African Development Bank will be the next financier to consider funding for the project. Friends of Lake Turkana and International Rivers Network submitted complaints to the AfDB in March and April.
International Rivers’ Africa director Terri Hathaway said the Gibe 3 Dam violates the AfDB’s policies on environmental and social assessment, poverty reduction, resettlement, public disclosure, and trans-boundary water management.
“Donors should not fund through the AfDB what they are not prepared to fund through the EIB,” the official said.
The Gibe 3 Dam which resumed construction in 2006 was awarded without competition to an Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the project’s integrity. The project’s impact assessment reports were also published long after construction began and are said to disregard the project’s most serious consequences.
The European Investment Bank financed the Gibe and Gibe 2 dams, conducted a pre-assessment of the Gibe 3 Dam, and contribued funds to the project’s Economic, Financial and Technical Assessment.
The environmentalists have argued that the construction of Gibe 3 dam would leave the Lake Turkana and its inhabitants devastated as the lake could start drying up when its main source, the Omo River, is depleted by a huge dam in Ethiopia.
“There is no question that Ethiopia needs power. But the irony of the Gibe III dam is that while it threatens the economy of the Turkana region, a large share of its electricity will be sold to consumers in other parts of Kenya,” the environmentalists has said.
Although Kenya and Ethiopia have reportedly signed the power purchase agreement outlining the terms of electricity sales in 2006, no bilateral agreements on the use of the Omo-Turkana waterway and the dam’s downstream effects to Kenya are publicly known.
Kenyan indigenous groups file complaint with AfDB on Ethiopian dam
2 March 2009
Requestors argue that the Gibe III Dam is set to deplete Lake Turkana with dramatic impacts on downstream communities in Kenya, and in the absence of public consultation.
On February 4, Friends of Lake Turkana, a Kenyan organization representing indigenous groups in northwestern Kenya whose livelihoods are linked to Lake Turkana, filed a formal request with the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Compliance Review & Mediation Unit (CRMU) – the AfDB’s internal accountability mechanism – to investigate and intervene in the Bank’s plans to finance the Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectric project in Ethiopia.
Gilgel Gibe III (known as “Gibe”) is part of a continuing series of projects on the Omo River and its tributaries in southwestern Ethiopia. Construction on the third portion of the project began in 2006, but the request for funding to the AfDB was only made recently. The project has become problematic for public funders because the Ethiopian government did not follow standard procedures in awarding the main contract to an Italian firm, Salini, without any bidding procedure. The World Bank has declined to offer financing because of this flaw, as has the Italian government. The European Investment Bank also seems to be leaning against any funding, on the same grounds. The AfDB’s procurement guidelines likewise prohibit it from funding the main contract, but the loan currently under consideration uses a loophole – financing through a sub-contract – to evade the rules.
With so many potential public funders turning away from the project, and with private financiers like J.P. Morgan Chase withdrawing support because of the financial crisis, the AfDB’s contribution becomes more important – even vital – if the project is to be completed.
Unfortunately, judgments about whether procurement rules have been violated do not fall within the CRMU’s mandate. The request filed by FoLT instead focuses on the impact of the project on Lake Turkana. The Omo River supplies roughly 80 percent of the water in the lake, which is the world’s largest permanent desert lake. The contemplated impact of the dam could reduce the lake’s depth, it is estimated, by between 7 and 10 meters. Such an impact would have serious repercussions on the chemical balance of the lake, which is highly alkaline, and therefore on the biodiversity supported by the lake. Lake Turkana hosts the world’s largest group of Nile crocodiles – over 20,000 – as well as many other species of fish, bird, hippopotamus, etc.
A serious impact on the lake would also have a serious impact on the riverine forest and the lands around the lake used for flood-recession agriculture. Most of the peoples living in the area are pastoralists who supplement their diet with seasonal cultivation; a damaged lake would seriously compromise their food security and way of life.
The Ethiopian government approved its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on the project in July 2008, nearly two years after construction began, in a blatant violation of Ethiopian law. The ESIA barely acknowledges any impact on Lake Turkana, and provides unrealistically rosy scenarios to claim that the project will actually improve conditions at the lake, such as by “reducing evaporation” – indeed, if there is less water, there is less evaporation. Little effort has been made to consult with affected peoples, and no effort whatsoever has been made on the Kenyan side of the border.
Northwestern Kenya is one of the most arid and resource-deprived parts of Kenya, and conflict among its various people has been chronic. The impact of the Gibe Dam on Lake Turkana would very likely lead to increased violent conflict.
Although Ethiopia is chronically short of power, most of the power produced by this project would, ironically, be sold to Kenya. That power would be very unlikely, however, to benefit the peoples of northwestern Kenya, but instead go to the metropolitan areas such as Nairobi, further south. The arrangements between the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments have not been transparent, and there is now jostling in Parliament and the Kenyan coalition government to ascertain what has been agreed to and whether the interests of the people around Lake Turkana have been taken into account.
Friends of Lake Turkana is careful to acknowledge that while they are fighting for the interests of the people on the Kenyan side of the border, there are hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia who stand to suffer even more disruptive impacts. The Omo River Valley is populated by a very diverse assortment of indigenous groups, also prone to conflict over scarce resources. Consultations with them have been minimal. But the Ethiopian government’s record of repression, and new laws it has recently passed to further limit the activities of civil society groups, have effectively discouraged groups in Ethiopia from organizing explicit opposition. Nonetheless, expatriate Ethiopian groups, together with NGOs with an interest in the region, plan to file a request to supplement FoLT’s in the coming weeks that will outline in more detail the potential problems in Ethiopia.
The AfDB board was originally scheduled to discuss the project on February 25, but that date was delayed shortly after FoLT’s request was filed. There is now no indication when the project will be formally considered, but efforts are being made within the Bank, both through the CRMU and through other contacts, to slow down the process and make sure that adequate consultations and studies are done before any decision is made.
BY SARAH WAMBUI