Is The Building Of The Gibe III Dam In Ethiopia Helping Or Hindering Development?


The building of the $1.8 billion dam, the Gilgel Gibe III dam, in Ethiopia, began in 2006 and has since become an international point of contention. The government has branded this development project as setting the people in the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia on the path to development and modernity. However, it has been reported that the dam has lowered water levels and has negatively impacted agriculture.

The former prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi dismissed international critics as “wanting [Ethiopians] to remain underdeveloped and backward to serve their tourists as museums.” The Gibe III dam is a huge economic venture for the country as the hydroelectric dam is expected to increase energy output by 85 percent, according to the Atlantic’s reporting. Furthermore, Ethiopia has agreed to sell electricity to Kenya once the dam is complete.

The claims made by the government about the Gibe III dam project counters the narratives told by members of the Lower Omo River Valley community, who are the most heavily impacted by the construction. Over the past few years, students and residents have protested the wide-scale evictions and land grabs all over the country by the government for these development projects that result in mass displacement and the loss of generational assets. The government has been known to use force against demonstrators, killing dozens in 2015, with no inquiry by the state following the tragic incident. Continue reading…

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