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Planet Ark World Environment News Giant Ethiopian Dam To Make 200,000 Go Hungry: NGO

Date: 25-Mar-10
Country: AFRICA
Author: Barry Malone

More than 200,000 Ethiopians who rely on fishing and farming could become reliant on aid to survive if the government goes ahead with building Africa's biggest hydropower dam, an advocacy group said.

Ethiopia is building the 1.4 billion euro dam as part of a campaign to beat power shortages and become a power exporter.

The dam - Gibe III -- is expected to generate 1,800MW, almost doubling Ethiopia's current capacity of just under 2,000MW.

Tribal rights group Survival International says the dam will cause displacement and upset fishing and farming. Among tribes that will be affected are the Kwegu and the Hamar.

"These tribes are self-sufficient but this dam will ruin their economies," a Survival International representative, who did not wish to be named, said.

"It will end the annual flooding some rely on to make the land they farm fertile, and for tribes who rely on fishing, it will deplete stocks. They will need aid."

Ethiopia is negotiating funding for the dam, which began construction in 2006, with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Italian government

"No respectable outside body should be funding this atrocious project," Survival International director, Stephen Corry, said in a statement.

The country's utility, EEPCo, was not immediately available to comment. The government has said that people affected by hydropower dams will be compensated or relocated.

The country is building five more hydropower dams, some funded by the World Bank. Hydropower fuels about 90 percent of its energy, EEPCo says.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)

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