Jul 23 2011

Text of UN body decision on Gibe III dam project

World Heritage Committee requested Ethiopia ‘to immediately halt all construction on the GIBE III dam’, which is partly financed by a Chinese loan.

The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and is placed under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO). The Committee meets once a year, and consists 21 members elected by the countries signatory to the Convention. Ethiopia is not only a signatory of the Convention, but also one of the 21 members of the Committee.

In its 35th session held from June 19-29, the Committee deliberated on Ethiopia’s Gilgel Gibe III dam and passed the following decision. One of the Anti-Gibe III campaigner organizations, International Rivers, called hailed it as an ‘exciting development’. Its Policy Director Peter Bosshard claimed, ‘with the decision of the World Heritage Committee, the Gibe III Dam is no longer a matter of debate between dam builders, affected communities and environmental organizations. The governments of Ethiopia and China now have a duty to act’.

The background of this ‘exciting development’ and what it really means will discussed in a follow-up post in this blog, later today.

For now, here is the text of the decision. (the font formats and underlines are original)


World Heritage Committee
Thirty-fifth session
Paris, UNESCO Headquarters
19-29 June 2011
(UNESCO, 2011)

3. Lake Turkana National Parks (Kenya) (N 801bis)

Decision: 35 COM 7B.3

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Expresses its utmost concern about the proposed construction of the GIBE III dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia and its likely impacts on Lake Turkana, which is located downstream in neighbouring Kenya and draws almost 90% of its inflow from the above river;

3. Takes note of the African Development Bank’s April 2010 study of the GIBE III proposal, “Assessment of Hydrological Impacts of Ethiopia’s Omo Basin on Kenya’s Lake Turkana Water Levels”, which concludes that the construction and operation of the dam is likely to result in a significant drop in the Lake’s water levels, cessation of the current seasonal flooding pattern, losses of nutrient and mineral-rich sediments due to the upstream reservoir, rising salinity and the disruption of the lake’s chemical balance, among other impacts that have yet to be quantified;

4. Considers that the GIBE III dam is likely to significantly alter Lake Turkana’s fragile hydrological regime, and threaten its aquatic species and associated biological systems, which are the basis of its inscription on the List of World Heritage under criterion (x), and that this development may pose an imminent danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, in line with Paragraph 180(b) (ii) of the Operational Guidelines;

5. Urges the State Party of Ethiopia to immediately halt all construction on the GIBE III dam in line with Article 6 of the Convention requiring State Parties not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage located on the territory of another State Party, and to submit all assessments for this proposal to the World Heritage Centre, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Also expresses its concern about the potential cumulative impacts of the proposed GIBE IV and GIBE V dams and large-scale irrigation plans on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, and requests the State Party of Ethiopia to submit assessments for all proposed dams and associated irrigation plans on the Omo River;

7. Also requests the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to review the impacts of the GIBE III dam on the Outstanding Universal Value of Lake Turkana, and to provide detailed information on plans for other hydro-electric developments and associated large-scale irrigation in the Omo region;

8. Encourages all financial institutions supporting the GIBE III dam to put on hold their financial support until the World Heritage Committee reviews this issue at its 36th session in 2012, and to take account of the Committee’s decisions when deciding whether to provide such funding;

9. Further requests the States Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a report on the course of action taken in response to this decision for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value in light of the mission’s review of the likely impacts of the GIBE III dam on Lake Turkana, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.


  1. john

    The UN is acting on an issue where we Ethiopians never requested for an action!!

    We requested the UN to urge Ethiopian regime to respect freedom of self expression and not to block the establishment of true democracy- which they blindly ignore so far or only say it on word. Yet they keep on giving emphasis on telling us to keep on starving or keep in vulnerable list about 15 million people every year as a down payment to recharge lake Turkana or the continual flow of the Nile! They do not recommend feasible development option on irrigation and hydropower projects. If we say Tekeze is an option for irrigation then they say it is a tributary for the Nile and a source for south Sudan, if we say the Nile itself they say Egypt has no other water source, if we use, Gibe-Omo they say lake turkana and Kenya, if we say Wabisheblle they may come up with complain that it will starve Somalia, if we say Baro-Akobo then they say south sudan and tributary for Nile. Oh very disappointing!! what a consistent effort to keep Ethiopia in dark, food aid dependent and weak. eight of the 12 major rivers of Ethiopia are international and other small rivers are tributaries to the sub basins of the major basins of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s proven resource so far is surface and ground water together with 10% arable land which we should make use for development. The call to halt Gibe III dam is unrealistic and will not be welcomed by any Ethiopian citizen I believe. Yet we welcome calls for an immediate end to the grand scale corruption by TPLF group and a call for TPLF to give power back to Ethiopian people!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In fact the Kenyans government also never officially complained about the project. And power transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya is underway funded by ADB, world bank and others.

    It is true that dams in Ethiopia could reduce the size of lake Turkana-when used for irrigation,
    however it is unavoidable that Ethiopian people should be able to produce food. Moreover it is on qualitative information (without having quantitative scientific data) that they ask for a halt by one year till there next 2012 meeting. On such “unavoidable” projects environmental impacts should be considered only for minimization. “Managing the unavoidable” consequences of projects. One way to do so is to help Ethiopia be able to use water efficient irrigation technologies-which UNSECO should have recommended and supported us with access for such technologies after the departure of Melse. otherwise it will only be hostile policy towards Ethiopia! And is a “deep ecologist perspective” that requires people to starve whilst nature will remain intact. It advocate that people has to leave at the mercy of nature which is totally unacceptable.

    Such a hostile policy has been advocated and pursued by survival international, BBC and other major Medias, International rivers calling Tekeze dam equivalent to “china three gorge dam” Gibe I, II, III, and plans on Gibe IV, V disastrous, Nile project “trouble than worth”. It simply is a hostile blind propaganda amid at weakening Ethiopia. Very surprisingly organizations like international rivers are using such hostile policy to weaken developing nations for it is a source of their funding and their hidden agenda to keep Africa in Dark. In contrary such officials are among the very few people in the world leaving very luxury life in “ a principle of mass production, mass consumption and mass waste” which has severe impact on the environment. The carbon foot print of such officials on an individual basis is very high while they try to block food production for starved millions of people that has no contribution or negligible contribution to environmental impacts in today’s world. Such people have nothing to do but to sit around their table and advocate to hamper development projects in developing nations in the name of environmental conservation while they personally live irresponsible life for the environment and their nations are the most pollutant nation which pauses clear trait to our global climate.
    I do know why they are so adamant on a hostile policy against ethiopia’s right to use its resources in its geographical boundary yet they keep their silence when the regime in Addis eliminates each private media, arrest journalists, and intimidate opposition member and supporters. Double standard and self centered policy!!
    it is like a person having severe pain in head went to a doctor to consult for help and the doctor gave him a prescription for stomach ache pointing at likely reasons!

  2. Getachew

    Hey, Guys don’t forget that these people have a mission to impose in Ethiopia, Don’t they know that Ethiopia is the very special country that could possible reject any proposals that undermine it’s national interest?
    This is not a country which gets panic with any organization or politically affiliated ones like the world heritage and We Ethiopians know the source and origin of this remark and it ‘s high time for us to tell them that we do not tolerate any thing that tries to undermine our national economy and autonomy. WE WILL BUILD GIBE III AND CONTINUE TO BUILD TENS OR HUNDREDS OF OTHER GIBES int he years to come.

    Egypt needs to work jointly with /Ethiopia so as to get a place in every Ethiopians if not the source is here and it won’t ever be far before we charge these neighbors for ever liter of water we provide.
    As we are paying for fuel



  3. [email protected]

    will the Committe bomb Ethiopia?

  4. sisay molla

    its easy for any un or other international body just to seat and judge any one who oppose their ideas but when u come to ethiopia we are building the dam nt to cause a sustaneble damage to our beloved and well respected naboughr kenya we have been living peacefully like brothers and sisters for so long therefor how could we delebrately damage theire source of lively hood we cant do ir but at the same time we are a soveriegn country and we have the right to develope our selves and escape the poverty that looks our nick name so pls what i need the unesco to consider is look how the current drought afect the horn of africa do u want us to be a burden for the westorn world every time wehn tehre is a drought ? We cant be and we wont be any more so pls mind ur owen business i can assure u for ever no one can stop ethiopia from developing her owen infrastructure in her owen teritory .what the worest senario can be is war we have been in a war more than almost all countries in the region so we r nt afraid of any one look back how we defeat the mighty italians in the early ages with out any modern military equipement God bless ethiopia