Lowering the Bar on Big Dams: Making the case for WCD compliance on African dams

Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Executive summaryA confusing maze of new funds, programs, and strategies (both within Africa and from abroad) is now prioritizing large dam development as a solution to Africa's pressing needs for improved supplies of energy and water. Potentially huge amounts of money could be funnelled into African large dam projects in coming years, with the potential to greatly exceed the amounts allocated for rural electrification and water supply. Across the continent, numerous dams are being fast-tracked as priority projects, but the process by which most are prioritized and developed has been nontransp

Ethiopia's Dam Boom

Small-scale water harvesting structure in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is a land of hydrological contrasts. Its uneven, often unpredictable distribution of water greatly impacts its efforts to address poverty. With its huge hydropower potential, Ethiopia is thinking big: it is developing more large dams than any other African nation. But many development analysts believe that large dams are a poor match for reducing Ethiopia's poverty. The nation is highly vulnerable to drought and climate change, which makes a dam boom even riskier.

The Okavango Delta

The Okavango River rises in the Angolan highlands and flows over 1,000 miles, passing through Namibia before entering Botswana and forming the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is a 15,000–square–kilometer rich and varied habitat for thousands of mammals, birds, fish and other animals. It sustains tens of thousands of delta residents and a growing ecotourism industry. The Okavango River Basin is at a key juncture, with opportunities to promote sound management of its resources and threats posed by water extractions and hydropower development. The Namibian government is considering

Dam Shame

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
This op-ed in the UK Guardian argues that while Africa's huge barrages are meant to create energy and clean water, the poorest communities are the losers in the race for the rewards. Ten years ago, the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa became a water exporting country, even though it does not have nearly enough water for its own needs, suffers from recurrent droughts, and a majority of its population has no access to clean water. Indeed, the UN last year called for Lesotho to be given emergency relief aid, including water for people and livestock, to address a gro

Aluminum in Africa

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A case study for Earthlife Africa eThekwini and Friends of the Earth Download Aluminum in AfricaWhile the aluminum industry’s interest in Sub-Saharan Africa is growing tremendously, the sector’s contributions to Africa’s economic and human development to date remain dubious. Aluminum is the world’s second most used metal, and the aluminum industry is made up of some of the world’s most powerful companies. These companies regularly secure advantageous energy and infrastructure deals for their aluminum production, but with questionable economic benefit or development for the countries

River Keepers Handbook: A Guide to Protecting Rivers and Catchments in Africa

Saturday, May 1, 1999
This 52-page report takes a step toward creating a broad movement of people devoted to protecting their watersheds (or "catchments") in Southern Africa. The handbook is full of information that will help activists, communities, educators and individuals become informed river advocates, able to ask the right questions about river-development schemes and press for better alternatives. From the handbook: Southern Africa is, by and large, a dry place. Water is one of the region's most precious resources, and yet the region's life-giving sources of water – the catchments that funnel water to rive

Africa's Perfect Storm?

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Extreme Vulnerability to Climate Change Increases Pressure on Riversfrom World Rivers Review, Aug. 2006 by Lori Pottinger Africa has yet another huge burden to bear: it has been deemed “the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of projected climate change” by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The problem is complicated by a mix of political, social, environmental and economic realities. But one thing is clear: a concerted international effort is urgently needed to ensure that Africa does not slip into climate-induced chaos because of the rich world's addiction to

WCD in Africa

South African Dam-affected People at a 2004 WCD multistakeholder Meeting
South African Dam-affected People at a 2004 WCD multistakeholder Meeting Since the World Commission on Dams published its final report in 2000, efforts have been made to promote its rights–based approach to water and energy planning across Africa. African NGOs working on dam issues have been instrumental in prompting national multi–stakeholder dialogues on the WCD, and educating local communities on its findings. Below are some highlights from across the continent. Important African contributions were made to the WCD, including a case study on Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe, a case study on the

European Investment Bank Fails Africa and Laos

Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Download Raising the Bar on Big Dams PDF (700 KB)This report, commissioned by CEE Bankwatch Network and written by International Rivers, details how large dams financed by the EIB have damaged communities and the environment and failed to bring promised development benefits. "Raising the bar on big dams: Making the case for dam policy reform at the European Investment Bank" provides case studies of six controversial dam projects with EIB financial involvement - five in Africa, and one, Nam Theun 2, in Laos. The report highlights the EIB's lack of policies that would prevent it from funding des

Micro-Hydro Powers Rural Development in Cameroon

Building a Community-based Microhydro Project in Cameroon
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
World Rivers Review, August 2006 It is cooking time in Bansoa, and rush-hour for Mrs. Tagme at her corn mill and cassava grater. She offers her services to other women in the small village situated in the hilly West Province of Cameroon. Her corn mill and cassava grater are the only ones within a 5-kilometer radius. A small Pelton turbine connected with pipes to the creek behind her house turns her mill. In the evening she connects it to a generator for electricity. Her children use the light for additional learning hours; she listens to the radio and can even offer TV evenings to friends. T


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