How Climate Change Could Affect New Nile Dam

hydroelectricity, Ethiopia, Nile River Climate change could derail Ethiopia’s grand plan to produce 15,000 MW of electricity with a series of controversial dams.

The initial rhetoric surrounding Ethiopia’s Grand Millennium Dam seems to have subsided, but the plans to proceed with Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant are still very much in place. Although it is yet unclear how Ethiopia will raise funds for the project it can scarcely afford, combined with four other dams Ethiopia hopes to develop in concert with the Blue Nile’s 5,000 MW plant slated for the Benishangul-Gumuz region, the country hopes to produce a total of 15,000 MW of hydroelectric power by 2015. But in his zealous pursuit to reclaim the powerful Nile waters from Egypt and Sudan and generate economic autonomy for his people, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is oblivious to one very important factor that could derail his ambitions: climate change.

What Environmental Impact Assessment?

In 2009, Ethiopia submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment for another controversial dam, Gibe III. It was so flawed that the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Euro Investment Bank all rescinded their support of this project according to a National Geographic report.

For the Grand Millennium Dam project, no environmental impact assessment has been vetted and there doesn’t appear to be any indication that one will transpire.

Just like Gibe III?

The Gibe III project will reduce water levels and increase salinity at Lake Turkana, which, according to Claudia Carr from the the University of California, Berkeley, is already close to being unfit for cattle or human consumption. The dam is likely to push the lake over the edge, jeopardizing the lives of 500,000 people already on the brink of starvation. The project also puts certain wildlife at risk.

These are compelling reasons to suspect that the Grand Millenium Dam, which originates at Lake Tana and will create an artificial lake that will hold 63 billion cubic meters of water, will have similar consequences if no effort is made to mitigate its environmental impact.

When the rains don’t come

Climate change presents an even more urgent reason to investigate the long-term feasibility of this project. Climatologist Chris Funk of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and his colleagues estimate that climate change is expected to alter the hydrological cycles in the wet Ethiopian highlands, reducing rainfall by 20%.

Lori Pottinger from International Rivers, which has been monitoring many of Ethiopia’s 20 dam projects, says that no attention is being given to the possible impact of climate change on the country’s hydroelectric future.

:: National Geographic

More stories on the Nile Dam, Ethiopia, and Egypt:

Ethiopia Can’t Afford the New Nile Dam

Defiant Ethiopia To Proceed with Nile River Dam

Ethiopia Gives Revolutionary Egypt a Break over Nile Dam

image via RealityZone

20 thoughts on “How Climate Change Could Affect New Nile Dam

  1. mimi

    Don’t worry to much we wont do any damage more/greater than you did to the world care about your own problems.God blessed us with a great leader who will make a difference in our lives.Life is all abut choice and we choose between poverty and some change to the environment.

    Reply
  2. Million

    Now this was a stupid argument!

    We currently have 2000 MW of power. So, when we generate say 15000 MW and the rains don’t come, we are actually less off than when we have 2000 MW and the same scenario happens? Please, we live with constant blackout in Ethiopia now, so do not pretend to care for how we live. Your agenda is something else! Black Africa will go through a second revolution for independence, this time it is to free its resources! Get used to it!

    Reply
  3. sam

    Trust when i say this, the Ethiopian government is not building this dam to benefit its people and bring them out of darkness, but to fill his greedy pocket by selling the power to its neighboring countries.The funny thing is Gojam the province where the Nile starts the people there are always out of light but the people in Tigray, the province where our dictator is from seem always to have power…..huh?

    Reply
  4. lee

    Dear Tafline Laylin,

    Ethiopia doesn’t have to time to slow down a “notch”. It’s already been slowed down by lack of proper infrastructure and devestating poverty for years. Ethiopia has the right to it’s own waters, within it’s own borders. The 1929 Agreement between Egypt and Great Britain, giving Egypt veto power over the Nile, was illegitimate because it defies logic, for one. How can it tell Ethiopia what to do in it’s own country? Secondly, when the so-called agreement was sealed, none of the upstream countries, from which the Nile waters originate, were ever consulted. So, Egypts claim is completely invalid.

    Reply
  5. Ann

    Dear Keji
    I have read your thoughts. it is very touchy .
    In this world you have know there are in humane peoples, groups out there menace for societies .Their motives: ego, for self employment, and for money. The so called activists, environmentalists, conservationists you mentioned are one of these. All are targeting specially the developing countries like yours.

    One of my friends is actually working his study papers on one of the above groups and I see him always tormented. I do imagine how also are feeling.

    Well Keji you are hero. You have done what I responsible young citizen should do in writing in civilized manner your thoughts. Everything shall be alright. Pray.

    You seem to have a responsible hard working government. Good luck

    Bless you, your family, your people, and your country.

    Ann W. Field
    School of International Studies
    Kent , U.K.

    Reply
  6. Keji

    Dear Ms.
    I am called Keji Wakato . I am 14 years old girl.
    My mother is English teacher at Maji Secondary School, South Omo SNNP ETHIOPIA
    My father is working with Agriculture Office. I and my family have better living standard than most of our neighbors and in the country side just out of our village.

    I am good in my class and in arts. I have received price for my “Green Omo” picture painting, and have got award as Green Ambasador as well from the Maji Education office last year.

    When I see girl and boys of my age at my village also in the nearby countryside I feel ashamed of myself and as if I made them to be that way. They have no electricity, no good water drink, and no clothes at all and totally naked. They are all poor. They live like wild animal style.

    My mother, my father, all my teachers , and the Kadis at the mosque tell us that the government is to dam the Omo river for producing electricity and irrigation. This is good thing for my county.

    After school closure, a week ago our class s scout students including me and teacher have gone to Gibe project area we are happy with all the works being done . We have just returned.

    But I hear from my parents and people in our village that your organization objects projects in Ethiopia and creating problems for our people .

    I have also read your some comments on Ethiopia’s water projects and I have found them to be totally negative . This is deplorable. Very unkind. Unfair.

    Green Prophet , International Rivers , Survival International organization are unjustly doing. This is bad.

    Why do you do that? Do you have family? Sons or daughters? Do not you care for them?
    Why do you hate African peoples? Why do you those evil things. Why do you create obstacles for our country Ethiopia not to get help and money loan? We are good peace loving people.
    My mother has a laptop computer and she always follow in the internet. She gave the permission to write to you and I thank her.

    Your organization name is Green Prophet. Also all Ethiopia’s projects are also Green.
    We all support Gibe and Blue Nile project works. With all the means we have we cooperate for the projects . These are one of the projects to pull my country and the peoples from poverty.
    Help us and do not create problem to my county and peoples please. Thank you.

    Keji Wakato
    Maji Junior Secondary School
    South Omo , SNNP Ethiopia

    Reply
  7. Oshimuro

    Dear Aviva,

    Yes, Tafline is an oversea journalist . Not an expert in energy or in relative disciplines . (Her writing speaks).

    OK Let she propose any clear cut suggestion for Ethiopian people for their resolve > Can she ?
    Ethiopia’s natural wealth within reach is its “waters” . (No nuclear power , no oil ).Ethiopia is a sovereign state – and only its peoples or the representing government can decide what to do .

    Leave this to the concerned – the Ethiopian people.

    Oshimuro , (Economist)
    Osaka – Japan

    Reply
    • Tafline Laylin Post author

      Oshimuro. You make many assumptions, showing that you have not done your homework. My suggestion is that this project slow down a notch so that certain steps can be taken to ensure the Ethiopian people have electricity and healthy ecosystems throughout the country for years to come. I know Africa, kind sir. Do you?

      Reply
  8. Aviva Weisgal

    Ok, so here is the deal…there are pros and cons to this issue, but Tafline, a dedicated and starving journalist is as concerned with energy as all of her critics. There are alternatives, and she (I assume) is trying to get decision makers to review their positions, before it is too late!

    http://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001414

    so read the pros and cons, think a little, and for the future of us all, make solid and responsible decisions.

    Reply
  9. Dr. W. Johonson

    Dear writer,
    It looks you lack full information or knowledge on the Blue Nile valleys projects.
    For your information the Ethiopian Blue Nile waters have been under studies since the time of Emperor Haile Selassie. I have worked at my young ages there ( in 1955/58 ) as an hydrology engineer , for a consulting company and this captioned project was called then “Border Project” . There after I do know a number of Ethiopian and overseas constructed consultants have been engaged in extensive studies. Do NOT think this Grand Millennium Dam is conceived in overnight. Make good studies before you write.
    Dr. W.Johnson (83) Utah , USA

    Reply
  10. GT

    Dear Tafline Laylin,

    Why don’t give us information about the damage, which ultimately affect the climate as a result of massive deforestation due to lack of energy, I guess you are pretty well informed that more than 80 percent of energy consumption comes from fuel, specifically from forest. So don’t you think that we need to substitute this by renewable energy??

    Or please allow and raise fund for us in order to build dam on the pacific ocean which may have little or no environmental impact.

    Please have little mercy and avoid such type of professional prostitution.

    Reply
  11. ME

    dear Tafline Laylin,

    I apperciate ur concern but I had one simple question. Do you think the planners and designers of this project have no idea about the hydrological process and the impact of climate change on it or u just wrote the article for the purpose of attracting ppl to comment on your blog because the issue is a very hot topic.

    salin is a very respected organization in the field and they have the best ppl in the hydropower plant construction, operation, and uppraisal, I have full confidence on thsi they would consider the worst scenior during the design process.

    Reply
  12. Violette

    hello writer
    In your article here you have quoted “Lori Pottinger from International Rivers” as a reference BUT not the peoples of the region , the academician or other credible sources and institutions.

    The International River agenda is well known to world (as one blogger) said above and has been kicked out of my country.

    This is a politicized article against African countries …not scientific or sociological .

    Violette – Kigali

    Reply
  13. Dr. McClean White

    If correctly understand the writer – in face of the climatic change and down drop of rainfall she is suggesting that countries should avoid planning / constructing of construction of hydro dams ….

    Are you in your right mind ?

    Reply
  14. Oshura

    Tafine Laylin !!!

    I have traveled to Ethiopia for a number of expeditions to the South.
    what you and you colleagues write is totally insane , unscientific and utterly rubbish .

    Oshru Mitiyako ( Sociologist)
    Tokio , Japan

    Reply
  15. Chombe

    Tafline Laylin. No one buys your stupid anaysis.

    By the way the whole world knows that “Green Prophet” , and “International Rivers” are set up by mercenary gangsters whose members earn living by disseminating wrong perceptions and ideas with handout thrown by their patrons neo-colonialists always geared against the interest of the peoples of developing counties. These criminal should be charged in court of justice for silent genocide crimes they are committing wherever they are caught. We African have one for good have get rid of colonialists , what remains for us is to clear up these evil mercenary devils.
    Chombe – DRC

    Reply
  16. Mukund Bangalore

    Dams are always controversial subjects. The main benefit of dams is the hydroelectric power, but there also drawbacks that have been mentioned in this article. If countries decide to build dams in the future, there is even more that needs to be considered. Rainfall pattern, food supply, and other changes in the environment need to be thought about in advance.

    Reply
  17. Gerado

    Tafine Laylin, Could you point out one project that can adapt to climate change in Ethiopia annd produces the amout of energy that the proposed dam will generate?

    Reply
  18. Tafline Laylin Post author

    We definitely want you to live in comfort, today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now. By looking further into the future, it is possible to create projects that can adapt. Failure to do that will create even more suffering.

    Reply
  19. Man

    Thanks for the crazy advice but no thanks. We in Ethiopia will not only build few dams but around 11 in the next ten years. If you are worried about the environoment, please move to a place without electricity, phone and any technology so I will listen to you.

    You can live in comfort but we in Ethiopia can’t? Crazy!

    Reply

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