Ethiopian Dam Suffers Tunnel Collapse Days After Inauguration

Friday, February 5, 2010
A critical water-passage tunnel in the newly inaugurated Gilgel Gibe 2 hydropower project in Ethiopia reportedly collapsed this week. With a price tag of 374 million Euros and a capacity of 420 megawatts, Gilgel Gibe 2 is currently Ethiopia’s biggest power plant. The project channels the water discharged from the Gilgel Gibe 1 Dam through a long tunnel and a steep drop directly to the valley of the Omo River. The project, being built by Italian firm Salini, had already been delayed by more than two years. A high-profile January 13 inauguration was attended by Prime Minister Meles Ze

Greenwashing Hydropower: The Problems with Big Dams

World Watch Magazine
Friday, January 15, 2010
From World Watch Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010, Volume 23, No. 1Big dams have a serious record of social and environmental destruction, and there are many alternatives. So why are they still being built? Big dams have frequently imposed high social and environmental costs and long-term economic tradeoffs, such as lost fisheries and tourism potential and flooded agricultural and forest land. According to the independent World Commission on Dams, most projects have failed to compensate affected people for their losses and to adequately mitigate environmental impacts. Local people have rarely had a mea

Examining the African Development Bank: A Primer for NGOs

The purpose of this Primer is to provide basic information about: 1) how the African Development Bank (AfDB) works and what its priorities are; 2) who controls its activities; 3) why it might be worth the attention of African civil society organizations; and 4) what people can do to learn more about and change AfDB projects and policies that concern them. The Primer was written by Shannon Lawrence in January 2007 and published by the Bank Information Center (BIC). Download a copy of the Primer here.

How Dams Affect Water Supply

More water evaporates from reservoirs than is consumed by humans
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
From World Rivers Review December 2009Most rural Africans are directly dependent on surface water - rivers, wetlands, springs and lakes - for their water supply. Today, 20 African countries experience severe water scarcity and another 12 will be added in the next 25 years. As the climate changes, free-flowing, healthy rivers will become an even more valued resource than they are today. Dams are expected to affect water quality and quantity for millions of downstream users. A few ways that dams harm water supply include: By trapping river-borne nutrients, dams can lead to the growth of toxic al

The Wrong Climate for Big Dams

In late October 2009, Africans joined a global day of protest to call attention to the need to keep carbon at 350 ppm.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Why Africa Should Shun Hydropower MegaprojectsFrom World Rivers Review December 2009Africa is the least electrified place in the world. An estimated 550 million Africans have no access to electricity. Nearly half of African countries have a power crisis. Solving this huge problem is made more difficult by widespread poverty, and because most Africans live far from the grid, greatly adding to the cost of bringing electricity to them. In late October 2009, Africans joined a global day of protest to call attention to the need to keep carbon at 350 ppm. Under these challenging conditions,

World Bank Financed Dam Draining Lake Victoria

Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Download the full February/April 2006 issueA new report by a Kenya-based independent hydrologic engineer confirms that over-releases from two hydropower dams on the Nile in Uganda are a primary cause of severe drops in Lake Victoria in recent years. The report finds that about 55% of the lake’s recent drop is due to the Owen Falls dams (now known as Nalubaale and Kiira dams) releasing excessive amounts of water from the huge lake. Lake Victoria’s natural control at Ripon Falls was removed for construction of the first dam in the 1950s. The second dam was built with World Bank funding in t

Debate Over Dams on Africa’s Zambezi River

Monday, October 19, 2009
Originally published in Green Inc. (New York Times energy blog) In a study released in the Mozambican capital of Maputo on Monday, two environmental organizations — International Rivers and Justica Ambiental — say plans to build the Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi, a river spanning six countries, could result in South Africa’s having to choose between light and water. The Mphanda Nkuwa dam site in Mozambique is 35 miles downstream of the Cahora Bassa dam, described by the United Nations as possibly the least environmentally acceptable major dam project in Africa.

South Africa

Power from Mozambique's Cahora Bassa Dam is sold to South Africa, while villagers beneath its lines remain unelectrified.
South Africa is by far the continent’s leading consumer of electricity. Its national utility, Eskom, controls nearly half of Africa’s entire capacity and sells some of the world’s cheapest power. Today, South Africa’s power sector is looking to secure new supply, with an overabundance of destructive projects (imported big hydro, coal and nuclear) in the mix, but South Africa has far better options to solve its energy needs.

Africa Partner Organizations

Members of ARN
Members of ARN Across Africa, activists have worked to stop destructive large dams, propose better alternatives, and protect the rights of affected people. Many of these groups have worked together as part of the African Rivers Network, the first continent-wide movement of dam-affected people and their allies. International Rivers works with groups in many parts of Africa, supporting their efforts to protect the region's rivers and the people who depend on them. Here we highlight some of our recent key partnerships. Southern AfricaInternational Rivers' efforts on the continent began in sou

Zambezi, River of Life

The Zambezi River is Southern Africa’s “River of Life.” The fourth largest river system in Africa, it drains seven countries and supports millions of people, who make use of its rich fisheries, forests, water, and rich floodplain soils. The lower Zambezi in Mozambique is the most productive and biologically diverse tropical floodplain in Africa. Yet the Zambezi is also one of the most heavily dammed rivers in Africa, with at least 30 large storage reservoirs holding back its flow.


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