Tuesday, August 4, 2009

AfDB to probe Ethiopian dam project

James Ekiru a fisherman at Kenya's Lake Turkana. AfDB will now conduct an independent inquiry  to avert possible environmental and social impacts of the Ethiopian hydro dam project against communities living near the lake..   Photo/WILLIAM OERI

James Ekiru a fisherman at Kenya's Lake Turkana. AfDB will now conduct an independent inquiry to avert possible environmental and social impacts of the Ethiopian hydro dam project against communities living near the lake.. Photo/WILLIAM OERI 

By ARGAW ASHINE, NATION Correspondent

ADDIS ABABA, Tuesday

African Development Bank (AfDB) has accepted a call from environmental groups to investigate the alleged impact of Ethiopian huge hydro dam projects on Lake Turkana in Kenya.

AfDB's Compliance Review and Mediation unit announced its acceptance to review Ethiopian hydro dam project ahead of a financing deal with Ethiopian government.

The push for investigations comes from environmental groups including Friends of Lake Turkana and International Rivers.

The groups are demanding that AfDB conducts an independent inquiry to avert possible environmental and social impacts of the hydro dam project against communities near the lake.

International Rivers Director Terri Hathaway says the failure by AfDB to protect hundreds of thousands of people affected by the project is scandalous.

After conceding to the demands, AfDB is now set to send an investigation team to the ground. This is not the first time a team has been sent to investigate the dam project.

Last May, the Kenyan government sent a high level probe team to Ethiopia and confirmed there would be no immediate danger against Lake Turkana if Ethiopia would respect the Impact Assessment recommendations.

AfDB is expected to approve $250 million for Gibe 3 project financing.

Gibe 3 dam project is one of the five series of Ethiopian ambitious hydro plants with a capacity to generate 1870 Megawatt of power, with 30 per cent of the project completed. Gibe 1 is already generating 184 MW and Gibe 2 with a capacity of 420 MW is expected to be inaugurated next month.

Gibe 4 and 5 are under preparatory stage.

World Bank and European Investment Bank had earlier withdrawn their financial support to Gibe 3, dam due to a mounting pressure from environmental groups.

Ethiopian authorities are strongly defending their position and claim that they did all environmental and social impact assessments for the project.

According to Ethiopian officials, the upcoming AfDB investigation would just be “a cross check.”

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