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Kenya should stop Ethiopia from building dam

By | January 23rd 2010 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Water is life. And for this truism, many lives have been lost. Amid the devastating effects of climate change, it seems the people who depend on Lake Turkana are about to lose their source of livelihood — not due to nature but greed and intransigence.

Despite numerous valid protestations about the environmental, political, economic and social consequences of Ethiopia’s decision to build a dam, Gibe III, on River Omo, the country seems intent on going ahead with the project.

Reports suggest the 240m high dam with a reservoir stretching 151km is at an advanced stage.

At a time when there are constant conflicts over water resources, it is unimaginable that our leaders have been lame ducks in the face of Ethiopia’s continued threat to the existence of Lake Turkana. Reports indicate that Lake Turkana’s death is nigh if the project continues as the lake gets 80 per cent of its water from River Omo.

Death of a lake

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Now, the fact that the river is the lifeline for people living around the lake is not new. And neither is the fact that without it, the people of Turkana and surrounding areas will be severely affected.

This is serious given the number of conflicts over water resources.

An environment impact report warns that "cutting off the main source of livelihood can only heighten the intense conflicts emanating from inadequate supply of resources for their mutual survival".

This will be compounded by, the report further contends, "total destruction of the environment and elimination of forest, woodland and total mutilation of biodiversity and all riverine economic activities".

Given such serious assessment, it does not make sense for Ethiopia to continue building the dam. The tragedy is that Kenya seems to have endorsed the project ostensibly because it will import 500 mega watts of power from Ethiopia once the dam is working.

This thinking defeats logic because millions of Kenyans’ lives will be irreparably damaged.

This realisation alone ought to tell the Government to take immediate steps to stop the construction of the dam. The Government has the obligation to protect the rights and interests of Kenya.

tourism tourists Ethiopia River Omo Lake Turkana
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