MPs join opposition to Ethiopian dam

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – Members of Parliament on Wednesday put the government to task over the controversial construction of the Gibe III dam by Ethiopia, saying it would negatively impact six Kenyan communities living around Lake Turkana.

While moving the Motion during the morning session, Emuhaya MP Wilbur Ottichilo raised the red flag over the ongoing construction saying it should be stopped until an independent environmental impact assessment was done.

Dr Ottichilo explained that the dam would strain resources in the region which would worsen an already volatile situation. He noted that 20 Kenyans were killed last week by cattle rustlers from the Merille community of Ethiopia.

The dam, which will be the largest in Africa, is being constructed on the Omo River that contributes up to 90 percent of Lake Turkana’s waters.

“The dam will reduce the Omo River flow into Lake Turkana causing the lake’s water levels to drop by 10 meters. This will critically alter the ecosystem affecting over 300,000 people. The lake will also become saline and undrinkable,” he argued.

While seconding the Motion, which was supported by several MPs from across the political divide, nominated MP Rachael Shebesh accused the government of ignoring the plight of its people by allowing Ethiopia to carry on with the project despite the issues raised.

She added that the dam would kill the economic livelihoods of the people living around the Lake and affect their independence.

“If you are negotiating as a government on behalf of your people the first people you should consider are those who will be affected by what you’re negotiating about. The government should not negotiate away the rights of Kenyans,” she said.

“This dam will make 300,000 people crawl to their knees!” she moaned.

However Water Minister Charity Ngilu assured the House of the government’s commitment to protecting its people. Ms Ngilu said the government had already set up a committee to look into the issue before presenting its report in September.

She added that when the Ethiopian government first undertook to construct Gibe I with a capacity of 839 million cubic meters on River Gibe, which is a tributary of River Omo, no questions were raised. She however observed that the construction of Gibe II, still on River Gibe, caused concern.

“They went on to do Gibe III and the Kenya government realised there was going to be trouble. And it is true that if we don’t do something, the only desert lake in the world will be badly affected and could even dry up,” explained.

The United Nations has already condemned this dam saying its construction should be halted. The Ethiopian government has however vowed to carry on.

According to Forestry Assistant Minister Josephat Nanok (Turkana South MP) 41 percent of the dam is being constructed with the aid of the Chinese government after the World Bank, African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank pulled out.

“Our only problem is the Chinese government; they created problems in Sudan and now they want to do the same here. Let our government use the projects being undertaken by the Chinese in Kenya as leverage to negotiate on our behalf,” he said.

Luka Kigen (Rongai), Peter Baiya (Githunguri), Wavinya Ndeti (Kathiani), Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Nkoidila ole Lankas (Narok South) and Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga) all supported the Motion.

They asked the African Union to intervene and ask Ethiopia to stop the construction. They also accused the government of casually handling the matter.

According to Mr Nanok, Gibe III will take three to five years to fill and should be completed by July 2013. The Ethiopian government is also planning on the construction of Gibe IV with the support of China.

Meanwhile Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim has issued a stern warning to ministers, their assistants and MPs who habitually skip Parliament when they are supposed to respond or ask questions. Mr Maalim said he would apply standing orders against such members with a view of suspending them.

The top officials of the Ministry of Agriculture have also been summoned by the Agricultural Parliamentary Committee on August 15 to explain why the industry is making huge losses through the exportation of raw produce like coffee and cashew nuts.

  • Tsegishvista

    Sure? Ethiopia has the right to use its own resources. are u trying to stop an independent country to utilize its resource and build its country? Its shame and first try to stop the Europe or Nairobi’s industries from polluting the environment and damage it before running the construction of a green-dam in one of the africa’s poorest nation.
    We build it whatever things have been done on us, we will also build Gibe IV very soon.never mind

    • Pawagrace

      Isn’t that river a trans-boundary river? Well. it empties it’s waters in Lake Turkana making very much Kenya’s business. Isn’t it time we stopped fighting emotionally and actually see facts (good or bad??)

      • Mike

        yeah yeah…we are trying to fight starvation, poverty, backwardness. Your concern is the ecosystem. Bugs, butterflies? Our people are dying here. We will develop all our resources no matter what you say. We do not tell you what to do with your resources in your country. Neither should you to us. Kenyans need to take it easy. Now it is getting to me. I always had a positive view of Kenya. Now you are stepping out of line. Please, be good neighbors. I would understand such nonsense coming out of western tree huggers, but Kenyans telling us about ecosystem while our people are dying of poverty and starvation is a little hard to take because I would expect you to understand. In any case, the Dam will be built. It is over 65% complete already. As a matter of fact, there will be more dams built in the region. Rather than modernizing the turkana region so that your citizens won’t have to depend on a dying lake, you want to hold us back. My suggestion is that we should work for economic and infrastructure integration of our region so that resources will be developed and shared. Asking us to stop a Dam almost complete is insulting, really.

      • Forest

        In that case since most of the Rivers that Originates in Ethiopia ends up in another Contry should we just let the others to benefit and just sit ? what a foul you and you’re government is, we will use all our resources and there is nothing will stop us, stop being such an Idiot.!!

      • Forest

        In that case since most of the Rivers that Originates in Ethiopia ends up in another Contry should we just let the others to benefit and just sit ? what a foul you and you’re government is, we will use all our resources and there is nothing will stop us, stop being such an Idiot.!!

  • Samuel

    You must stop joking!!! either you like it or not Ethiopia will never stop from going forward by utilizing its own resource….First we have to feed our poor people by having such development project. Then we will start thinking about the microinvertabrate  in the river.

    • Pa

      …”Then” might be too late. We must forecast and think long-term. Why can’t we focus on other forms of energy.. solar, wind etc.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QJ2N5UQB6B7362GYNOGSARTSOU Jonny

        Pag, you are something, really. Solar? Solar energy is so expensive to produce. Westerners build very environment damaging forms of energy such as coal, gas, oil, Nuclear(considering its waste management being so difficult,) etc. Then they turn around and attack one of the poorest countries on earth for developing the cleanest form of energy. While western behavior and hypocricy  is understandable, Kenyans joining the quire is funny.Snap out of it. I rather suggest for Kenyan officials to work with the Ethiopians to make sure the dam will not affect the mentioned communities. Taking extreme measures will damage the relation between the two countries. That will be foolish for both countries. The Kemyan gov needs to calm down its MPs. 

        • Getu

          Thanks Jonny. I am for a round table discussion on how to mitigate the risks to the people and the environment. All we hear from those who opose the project is a pin-hole view of the issues. The dam is amlost progressing fast and for all the clamor I think there is nothing sensible  anyone can do to stop it. Those of you who are spending time and resources in creating so much noise on cyberspace would do better to organize such a dialog to minimize the negative impact (real or even imagined) of the Project. If a sober examination of the facts (rather than emotional outbursts) is made surely there will be a very good outcome.  

  • Daniel

    Don’t even think about it UN or westerns want to keep US as aid receiving country. When they see such kind of development project which will change the country forever, they will start roaring like mad dog in the name of environment. If really they are concerning about the environment I would like to ask them: who made the world go crazy because of climate change? who is the biggest Co2 emitter but still refuse to sign Kiyoto protocol? which power generating technology the most environmentally unfriendly?……..what unfair world?…when this poor country striving to get out of poverty…..why UN start crying?….. Ethiopia is now on the point of no return!!!! Go go go my country never to look back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Pawa

      Wow. Sad how your feet rush to blame others while you cannot see your own greed. You would rather Ethiopia’s economy improve by all means, doesn’t matter whether or not it jeopardises the the livelihoods of half a million people who depend on the Omo flooding and L.Turkana. This is one reason why Africa is having problems, some of us are really blind to our own undoing.

      • Getu

        I think we must be sober about this issue and learn about all sides of the story. There are interest groups who would like to kill this project to further their own ends It would be a shame to become their instrument for lack of due diligence and ignorance. When a project this size is undertaken there is going to be movement of people and change of life style. For the people of this region, who are attract tourists and anthropologists who study early human development, life will most likely change for the better. Scan the history of the area and you will learn what the irregularity of rainfall does to the people year after year. I don’t know on the Kenyan side but on the Ethiopian side the region needs long overdue change for the better. The people of the area should be presented with the FACTS (not exaggerated and even manufactured numbers) and we will see what they will decide. Really the people of the area are not museum artifacts or research subjects, they want to make choices and be part of the global society with its goods and shortcomings. The REST of YOU who are making ignorant noise please educate yourselves about the issues AND THEN take part in the discussion constructively. I am sure any sane person without partiality would knowingly want to harm a beneficial project nor would let a harmful project go undeterred. On the Ethiopian side there is at least some environmental impact assessment BUT on the other side of the argument all we hear is speculative and alarming TALK. 

      • Forest

        @ Pawa its because of people like you who dragged Africa to it’s Knees, Like every body else we will use our water resources, you’re problem is not ours and we will carry any Construction that will benefit our Economy. PERIOD.!!!!!

      • Forest

        @ Pawa its because of people like you who dragged Africa to it’s Knees, Like every body else we will use our water resources, you’re problem is not ours and we will carry any Construction that will benefit our Economy. PERIOD.!!!!!

  • Michell_kun

    I am really tired of this Kenyans wining all the time. What? only because obamas father is Kenyan you guys think Kenya can mess in Ethiopian internal affair?
    Whenever I read about Gibe project all the writers about turkana “comunity” say that “it negatively impact the area” what does that even mean? is this the reason ur parliamentarians come up with?
     “the dam will reduce the water with 10 meters”  No dam in the world reduce the flow of water the water will be going back to the stream in any dam in this planet so what is special about GEBE dam?
    And this is the most ridiculous line “The lake will also become saline and undrinkable” what?  first of all which lake in the world is drinkable???? then saline? I don’t know what kind of dam is salinated its a dam not a sewage water facility we are building.
    Every reason I read are really dumb and it really looks like flat out hatred. We have no intention to make any Kenyan to “crawl to their knees” our intention is to build our country in a sustainable and mutual way. Kenyans running to UN and Europe to block it is not a very smart idea because even Egypt didn’t succeed and we r building the biggest dam on NILE.
    The other thing is this non diplomatic non smart way of accusations  never help no one actually it looks like lets die together than lets find solutions together. 

    • Pag

      Oh boy! Some of us need to go back to books and learn how to read open-mindedly while appreciating the meaning of words before they start ranting in public places, fully displaying their ignorance

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QJ2N5UQB6B7362GYNOGSARTSOU Jonny

        My friend, ignorance is echoing western slogan without relating to our realities in Africa. We do not have the luxury of talking about ecosystem, bug population, etc. Our people are poor, backward, starving, underdeveloped, and everything else. To change that we are working hard to develop our resources and infrastructure. If you are so smart, you should advocate the development of the region on both sides of the border so that people do not have to kill each other over cows. Lake Turkana is a dying lake regardless of the dam. IMO, the dam will rather regulate the flow and reduce seasonal drops in water level. BTW, those MPs should spend their times devising a plan to develop that region and modernize the people rather than trying to interfere in other country’s internal affairs. If you enjoy collecting tourist dollars by keeping your people half naked and surviving on dying lake, be my guest. We, on the other hand, want to develop the region. We do not want to be the favorite destination for National Geography writers. The dam will be built. More will follow as well. If you have some sense, let’s integrate the region in economics and infrastructure. Besides, the dam will not affect the flow; it will rather regulate it. One more note, it is almost complete…over 65%. 

        • Berta

          Thanks Jonny!! I couldn’t agree more!!

      • Denboba

        did you think the dam reduce the water flow or the size of lake turkana for ever? May be for once when it is fill the dam after that it pass through the original path.

  • balcha

    Thanks for the two comments bellow. These people who are telling us to stop working on our own soveriegn resources are the ones tirlessly warnning the chinese companys not to explore the Ogadens oils and gases saing that the impotent ONLF could attack them again. What a shame. Ethiopia is not all about you always watch on the west televisions. There is no way Ogaden will be separated from its mother land Ethiopia and either, we even think of stoping on utilizing our own resources. It sad that instead of forming alliance and cooperations with neighbouring african countries to defeat whats against us as africans, we are just walking only on the roads made for us by the west blood suckers.

  • Lasrebse

    Our water our resource … Go Ethiopia GO!!

  • Mizanethiopia

    I think I see some confution here. The dam is mainly for hydroelectric power production. The power is used by both Kena and Ethiopia. So there is no one looser or gainer. We should think of uniting…than segregation. The economic integration would bring unity. This is a very small project which doesn’t consume water rather hydro-electic power. With the demands we both countries have. It is almost impossible to stop such kind of projects. If this is to happen, then it means Egypt and Sudan will also have a capacity to stop Kenya, Ethiopia and the other Nile riperian countries. We need to agree on sharing of these resoures other wise…an already wet person will have no fear of getting more wet.

  • FANO

    Pawa,

    You expect Ethiopia stay poor while you prosper? Ethiopia must take care of its citizens and interest first and most. 

  • Solulaw

    I think Kenya need to defend its interest through war if Ethiopia is not willing to act peacefully.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QJ2N5UQB6B7362GYNOGSARTSOU Jonny

      I doubt you are Kenyan. If you are, you do not know us.

    • Dog

      the usual suspects

  • Yoncobfee

    @ Solulaw, we will not have any war with kenya because Ethiopia and Kenya are good neighborer and didnt face war each other in History. We might have war at long distance running like brothers lol… . I think you are not Kenyan or Ethiopian.You know i love kenya and her people too. cause in History the only Ethiopian neighborers that didnt send army to Ethiopian land. about the dam , I know that the Dam will benefit both Kenya and Ethiopian including the border population .we Ethiopian need to see Kenyan development and peace for the people. God Bless Ethiopia and Kenya .   

  • Yoncobfee

    I don’t get their point with some Kenyan parliament member , why they accused the government of Kenya with some groundlessness issues like 20 or more people killed by Ethiopian tribes before some months ago ,at that time i heard lot of things like government of Kenya couldn’t prevent civilians and it should send army and other issues. at that time i was amazed with those people because the couldn’t see the ground fact with the tribes. those people have war history for cows and resource so the right thing it should be said was , they should ask both Kenyan and Ethiopian government to work together to facilitate sharing the border resource by both tribes instead of accusing kenyan government for didn’t attened military action with Ethiopian tribe.here i don’t know whether the same individuals or not that are asking to stop the Dam that are build by Ethiopia and accusing Kenyan government for didn’t run with some wight peoples who have hidden agenda on the content. I can say those individuals done selling their country for political profit like some Ethiopian opposition parties. I call for Kenyan people to be strong for developmental work ,to use our border resource together in scientific methods,to avoid individual from parliament at election time who need political profit by selling their country to conflict  and  brotherhood relationship with your Ethiopian brothers. God bless Ethiopia and Kenya.

  • Kalebamha

    corrupted Mps pay your  tax first  .

  • tesfamariam

    i think this issue must be raised but the Ethiopian government is endeavoring to bring development and prosperity to the people of Ethiopia but it does not mean that we are not concerned about the Kenyan people and the eco system. as the government of our country announces so many time this project is environmentally friendly that does not affect any people rather it helps to change the life style of the people.

  • Solulaw

    I think Yonkobfee is afraid of Kenyans having war to defend their peoples’ interest. Kenyans unlike other east African countries they give priority to their people well being and I am sure they will do everything to defend their peolples interest. Because the dam is being built in Ethiopia, it is not possible for Kenyans to stop the construction physically unless they enter in Ethiopia. It is possible only by force. Since Kenyans never have war before doesn’t mean they can’t fight at all.

    • Forest

      Remember the only war you guys can fight is Tribal war, Kenya is nothing but corrupts and becareful because you are talking about a nation with over 80 Million people with the largest Military Power in East Africa and one of the best Army in the whole Africa.

  • Yoncobfee

    @solulaw first you have to tell me your nationality before writing such comment, then i will respond to your comment .

    • Solulaw

      Kenyan

      • Yoncobfee

        I think you didn’t get some points with 21 century.There are lot of ways to develop together and to   settle difference by dialog instead of back to 17 th, beveling by war.So if you are my kenyan brother my advice is war is old fashion for the world at large specially for two brothers countries.God bless Ethiopia and Kenya and largely the world. Love you my brother….

      • Yoncobfee

        I think you didn’t get some points with 21 century.There are lot of ways to develop together and to   settle difference by dialog instead of back to 17 th, beveling by war.So if you are my kenyan brother my advice is war is old fashion for the world at large specially for two brothers countries.God bless Ethiopia and Kenya and largely the world. Love you my brother….

  • Abyssinia

    KENYA, please understand that the poor but great ETHIOPIA wants to grow and feed its people. The way out is mutual understanding and create win-win solution to mutually benefit from the resource. If Kenyans try to echo what the Westerners, who don’t want Africa to change/grow,say, then ETHIOPIA will be sorry but nothing stops ETHIOPIA from using its OWN natural resources. NOBODY AT ALL!! The poor Ethiopians just know what/how to do in order to protect their beloved coutry!.

  • Tokuma

    Remember! GIBE/OMO is an ETHIOPIAN RIVER!! Don’t embark on what you don’t deserve..1. It is just not yours
    2. It will be like a suicidal atempt for you to fight with ETHIOPIA. Remember, we never get defeated, by any body!!

  • Tokuma

    3. We have the natural right to use our resources for growth…

  • Guest

    Common our brothers and sisters in Kenya- don’t U want to see the good of U,r neighbours? Don’t repeat what u’r colonialists (land lords) – the Briton, told U!

    The point of “Lake Turkana” is only a scape got for the evil will of some peoples who want to see the suffering of others and speak about it in their monopolized media.

  • BALCHA

    I Am proud of my fellow Ethiopians for defending there position.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QJ2N5UQB6B7362GYNOGSARTSOU Jonny

    You guys, nobody is going to war. I can not believe somebody said that. Kenya is a good neighbour. We do not have any such history. This is a political scuffle. However, I was shocked at words the Kenyan MPs used such as “tame, Hostile, we are not going to sit and watch, ” etc. These are irresponsible words and phrases. The response would be similar and everything would go downhill. Politicians need to be careful with their words. The dam is studied over and over. it will not affect Lake Turkana. If further studies are needed, they should be done in a sober and calm manner. Otherwise, if Kenyans keep on using such hostile words and confrontational attitude, the response might be something you won’t appreciate.  We are going to build dams wherever we want inside our country. That is something we will not negotiate with anyone else. Therefore, keep that in mind and work out your concerns in a civilized manner. 

  • Solulaw

    Will Kenya demolish the Dam built by Moi on one of the rivers feeding Turkana?


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