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Omo River dam construction (BBC video)
Nope, not a typo.
I’m talking about the dam project on the river Omo. The Gbe III dam is currently under construction, and is part of a series of dams already built or planned to be built on the Omo River in Ethiopia. So far two of them are already there, and three more are scheduled to be constructed in the next years.
Those in favor of the Gibe III dam say electricity generation will increase dramatically and that will benefit not only Ethiopia, but its neighbors Kenya and Sudan. Nowadays electricity is available to a few, and those lucky ones experience regular power cuts. If you have ever been to Ethiopia, you surely know what I’m talking about.
They also maintain, that the construction of the dam will provide some kind of flood protection to those living near the river.
But there is always a dark side to every project. In this case the construction of the dam is sure to cause a huge environmental impact in the region. Many local people depend on those same regular floods to grow their crops, and these will stop forever once the damn is finalized. These rural people are already suffering hunger and their lives totally depend on these natural patterns of dry and wet seasons. Apparently there is no plan to mitigate the impact the dam will have on those living near the Omo river. The dam will also have an impact on Lake Turkana, reducing its level to a point in which the salinity of its waters will increase so much that the aquatic life in it will slowly die.
The change in the environment and livability in the region, will cause conflicts between tribes, destroy cultures and will displace many people.
I’m not against progress and obviously Ethiopia needs some clean way of generating energy to sustain the lives of its people, but the problem here is that a project of such magnitude must be done with the approval of all the people that will be directly affected by it. I don’t know how much the tribes that live near know about the consequences of such a project and if they have participated in the decision for its construction. I doubt it.
Have the builders thought about the long term effects of this construction? And I mean not only on the lives of the nearby inhabitants on the river Omo, but on the environment in general, on the culture, on the country. Will there be enough water for energy generation and irrigation? 
Dams are a very delicate subject. Once you build one, there is no way back and we know the devastating effects they can have. Nowadays there is a controversy about them and there are some discussions about removing some dams and restrict future dam development.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, many have been built, specially on the Columbia River, and many years after their construction people have realized that sometimes their cons are way bigger than their pros. But the concerns here is mostly about wildlife; native tribes have already been hugely damaged a long time ago. In Ethiopia the rich culture of its people as well as the environment still can be saved before it’s too late.
I don’t know all the facts about this specific project but I think it’s something to be concerned about due to the big impact that it will have. If you want to read more opinions, here are some links:

Ethiopia’s Omo River dam to cause environmental disaster Ethiopian Review
Why residents want Ethiopian dam on River Omo stopped urgently The Standard
Ethiopia launches new Omo River hydroelectric plant BBC
Ethiopia: Online campaign against Gibe III dam Afronline

Suggested reading:

Silenced Rivers
Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams by Patrick McCully
Deep Water
Deep Water  by Jacques Leslie
0801489075
Dams and Development: Transnational Struggles for Water and Power by Sanjeev Khagram
1844073386
The Future of Large Dams: Dealing with Social, Environmental, Institutional and Political Costs by Thayer Scudder

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