Gibe III dam | Gov’t responds to International Rivers official’s article

The weekly press release of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded to a recent article from International Rivers official, an organization dedicated to bring a halt to Gibe III dam – a 1,870 MW mega dam on the south-western Ethiopia to be operational by September 2013.

The response was published in last Friday issue of of A Week in the Horn of Africa, under the heading ‘Repetition does not make truth’.

After noting that:

The Government and the people of Ethiopia are endeavoring relentlessly towards achieving the vision of the nation to climb up the ladder of prosperity. Efforts to lift the country out of the poverty are yielding more than encouraging results ……The country has been undertaking various hydroelectric projects that are environmental friendly and designed with due emphasis on impact of the project on the surrounding population as well as neighboring states. None of these projects to date have caused undesirable effect on the settlers or on the environment.

The press release lamented:

While Ethiopia continues to fighting its number one enemy, poverty, some are busy fabricating stories crying foul about the country’s developmental endeavors. This is not the first time that the country is facing those regrettable and fictitious accusations. The allegations continue, and the good news is, so do the endeavors.

Indicating to the particular article to which the response was directed, the press release stated:

One such article was recently posted on the web as part of this campaign. The article posted on the web, under the title “How a Big Dam Fuels Land grabs, Hunger and Conflict in Ethiopia” by a certain Peter Bosshard has an outrageously paternalistic tone.

Actually, the article, How a Big Dam Fuels Land grabs, Hunger and Conflict in Ethiopia’, was posted first on Huffington post, later re-posted on a handful other sites. Peter Bosshard is a Policy Director of International Rivers and is apparently in charge of the organization’s anti-Gibe III dam campaign.

Explaining the need to reply to Peter Bosshard’s article, A Week in the Horn states: 

The writer assumes to have a practical knowledge about the reality on the ground concerning the situation the Omo people are living due to the construction of Gibe III; but this is nothing more than a mere continuation of a smear campaign against the economic activities the country has launched for some time now. Because Ethiopia attaches so much importance to such projects that are of huge benefit to its population, it focuses on what matters most and gives no credit to such empty allegations. There is the need, however, to set the record straight to our friends and partners all over the world.

Then, pointing out a misrepresentation of the AfDB’s study of Gibe III, it remarked:

Allegations on the Gibe III hydroelectric project have for a long time now been projected by those who want everything but the good of our country. These accusations have been repeatedly found to be total nonsense seen against local and international reviews of the project. Despite the fact that the Government has now and then presented credible reports and the conclusion of such reviews, some, like Bosshard, still insist on their fictitious versions of impending doom.  They have the effrontery to claim that the ADB study report on the project has concluded that the project causes a negative environmental impact and will have serious impact on Lake Turkana. The truth is that the ADB report has never stated that. Environmental and social assessments have been conducted, and precautionary measures have been put in place, before embarking on the project. This is something a cursory look at the ADB’s website will show.

Further, dismissing Bosshard’s allegations and policy prescription, the press release stated:

Bosshard falsely claims that the local residents were intimidated by security forces, detained and forcibly evicted from their places, but this is an utter nonsense. Proper consultation has been made and grievance redress mechanism is in place to adequately address the concerns of the people. Not only that, Bosshard goes even as far as trying to dictate the government of Ethiopia on the country’s national interest by ‘advising’ it not to use irrigation for development and stating that “investing in agricultural water management for rain fed farmers must be a priority.” This clearly shows the contempt he has for the country and its people. While the developed world in which he lives in had massive investments to reach where they are now, insisting that developing countries like ours should not try such activities is utterly illogical and simply unacceptable. This clearly demonstrates the double standard he and his likes have perfected into an art form. 

In conclusion, A Week in the Horn offered a piece of advise to Bosshard saying:

In a rather carefully planned factual misrepresentation of activities and events in Ethiopia, Bosshard continues to try and tarnish the country’s image. One wonders why the likes of him are obsessed with this campaign but one thing is certain: he is barking up the wrong tree and his crocodile tears on account of ‘concern for environment’ are far from genuine. Bosshard’s article concludes with a callous call for the blockade of aid for development. Regrettable as it may be for anyone to be part of this campaign, Ethiopia will not be deterred by such baseless accusations from its development endeavors.


See the Gibe III dam Archive for previous and upcoming posts.

Daniel Berhane

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