Foreign Corporations Moving Onto Tribal Lands in Ethiopia

By B. McPherson

Survival International is highlighting the plight of the native people of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. The Omo River is in the process of being dammed. The dam, Gibe III, of questionable legality, is being built in conjunction with an Italian firm. When it is complete, it will hold back the lifeline to as many as 100 000 people and prevent the annual flood which renews the cropland. When this mega project is completed, there will be a series of five dams along the Omo River, changing it forever.
The series of dams will generate large amounts of electricity, with enough surplus to export energy to neighbouring Kenya, Sudan and Somalia. The expected sale of the electricity when the dam is operational is expected to bring in over $4 million in foreign money each year to the Ethiopian economy.
In addition to the people who will be displaced by the flooding of the land behind the dam, a further 200 000 are expected to have their already harsh lives made more difficult by the impoundment of the river. Environmentalists are concerned for the health of Lake Turkana. Lake Turkana is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are fears that the dams will interrupt the seasonal rhythms of the lake.
Survival International is receiving reports that some tribes people are being forcibly removed from their traditional lands to make way for large irrigation projects and industrial farming.

“Ethiopia’s most productive farmland is being stolen from local tribes and leased to foreign companies to grow and export food – while thousands of its citizens starve during the devastating drought.” Survival International

This is yet another example of how crucial water is becoming in this ever more crowded planet. The value of oil reserves pales in comparison to that of useable water. These displaced tribes people have survived for thousands of years without petroleum products. How long will they survive without their life giving water? How long would any of us survive without water?

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