Tedla Asfaw — I worked on Awash River for five years from 1980-1985. As you well know the Awash River is regulated by the Koka Dam that is now silted up and is living day to day, producing little electrical power. The Awash River and the impact of the Koka Dam to the million or so Afar people who depend on it is well studied and we have also five decades of facts on the ground.
The Afar nomads use the river as a grazing and watering spot for their animals. In a dry season when the river is not flooding as is regularly done by those who operate the dam they have to take their herds to high lands looking for grass and water. Unlike the Oromo basin people the Afar people do not plant crops except in a very few cases.
The current dam in construction, Gibe 3, some advocates of river development said it did not take care of the downstream inhabitants and the environmental impact assessment is not done properly. From the government side we hear that all is done on a transparent manner and those who financed the project accept the project and construction is underway to be completed in few years if all goes well.
It seems there is politics behind all this. Meles Zenawi who has been in power by force since 1991 is a darling of the west. If this is a regime who is not favored by the west such project will be rotten on a design stage let alone be financed. The goal of the Ethiopia regime is to get cash by selling all resources of the country, land, water etc.
Currently the regime is busy leasing agricultural lands for cash. It illegally handed over huge amount of land in the west which is about 30,000 sq km to the butcher of Darfur, Omar Al-Beshir. The Chinese, Koreans and the Arabs are leasing huge lands to produce their own crop and no wonder this regime ignores all costs including human lives to make money.
This is pure greed and has nothing to do with developing our country. Moreover, all these are happening with the help of American and European administrations. The Gibe 3 project symbolically is under Ethiopian Electric Power,however, the real people behind are those who controlled all businesses in Ethiopia, the Endowment Fund For Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT).
EFFORT is everything when it comes to money. The greed to make money has turned also the Koka Lake in to green by way of selling flowers to European markets. Inhabitants are dying drinking poisoned lake as reported on recent Aljazera program. If you tell me nobody knows this, you are kidding me, it is corruption unparalleled in Ethiopia’s history with the help of west disguised as development strategy.
The question here is not why we are building dams but who is profiting from it ? Where political legitimacy is lacking or legitimacy by buying votes on open market, in the name of election, is orchestrated our natural resources will be a curse on us similar to oil curse of oil exporting African countries.