“The World Bank funds large dam projects, but does little to help the displaced millions who are forced to relocate. The most recent data available indicates that 1.9 million people are being displaced by projects in the Bank’s current portfolio and that these numbers continue to grow.” (International Rivers) Continue Reading
Chen Qiulin watched as half of her hometown, the ancient city of Wanxian, was submerged in water by the creation of China’s Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest electricity-generating plant. She has memories of her childhood home in a large residential compound and of the old harbour she once played in with friends after school, both gone now. “It became a new city with very many high buildings. I hardly recognize it anymore,” she said.
For five years, Chen’s life was consumed by the drastic changes around her. Motivated to document the transformation of her surroundings, this contemporary artist created four videos corresponding with the four phases of construction. Rhapsody on Farewell (2002), River, River (2005), Color Lines (2006) and The Garden (2007) are part of Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art exhibition shown at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in 2009 and more recently at the Nasher Museum of Art in North Carolina. Continue Reading
“The Gibe III is the worst dam I have ever come across,” one World Bank consultant told Ikal Angelei, the chairperson of the Kenyan organization Friends of Lake Turkana, referring to the large hydroelectric project in Ethiopia.
Friends of Lake Turkana filed a complaint last year with the African Development Bank (AfDB), one of the primary financial contributors to the Gibe III dam, concerned that the social and environmental impact assessment of the project is “seriously flawed.” The group urged the AfDB to improve mitigation efforts and consultations with local indigenous people.
“It’s the responsibility of the AfDB management to consult the communities who will be negatively affected by the dam,” Angelei said.
The complaint was heard. A few months ago the Bank hired two consultants to meet with the indigenous communities. “We don’t know what will be the consequence of that. Will the African Development Bank take that as a sign that they don’t have the communities’ consent? Or does it mean that they consulted and will carry on with the project anyway?”
The Gibe I and Gibe II dams have already been built along the Omo river, but the Gibe III will be the largest. Hydroelectricity is one of the country’s few exploitable resources and the Ethiopian government’s hopes are high. It wants to outsource electricity to other countries through interconnected grid systems.
The dam is being built on Ethiopia’s Omo river, which flows south to Kenya’s Lake Turkana. According to the US NGO International Rivers, the Gibe III dam will negatively affect sources of food for an estimated 500,000 indigenous people because of disruptions to the river’s flood cycle. Continue Reading