We the undersigned call upon the Ethiopian government to:
suspend the Gibe III dam project on the Omo River unless and until it obtains the free, prior and informed consent of the affected tribes to the project;
restore the right of the community associations which have been closed down to operate freely, and revoke proclamation 621/2009 which prohibits many charities from working on human rights issues;
recognise the Omo tribes’ collective land ownership right as guaranteed under international law and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We also call on the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the Italian Government and the Kenyan Government not to grant any economic and political support to the devastating and illegal Gibe III project.
The massive Gibe III Dam on the Omo River threatens the land and livelihoods of 500,000 tribal people in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. If built, the dam will end the river’s natural flood cycle, on which the downstream communities have depended for growing food, fishing and grazing animals for thousands of years. The dam will also dramatically reduce the water flow to Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake.
Most of the affected people know very little about the project which threatens their future and their survival. In violation of international law and the Ethiopian constitution, they have not been consulted about it. The Ethiopian government is harshly clamping down on any dissent in the Omo Valley, and affected people are not able to express their views or get independent information about the project.
As proposed, the Gibe III Dam will devastate the unique ecosystems of the Omo and Lake Turkana, which have both been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It also violates Ethiopia’s constitution, international conventions, the environmental safeguard policies of international financial institutions and the strategic priorities of the independent World Commission on Dams.
Construction has started, but the Ethiopian Government needs more than USD 1,4 billion to finish the dam. In spite of these serious impacts and numerous violations, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the Italian Government and the Kenyan Government are currently considering funding the project.
The Counter Balance coalition, Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank, Friends of Lake Turkana, International Rivers and Survival International ask everyone to join the campaign to defend the rights of the tribes of the Omo Valley and the Lake Turkana region and help stop the destructive Gibe III Project.
"The rise and fall of the Omo waters is the heartbeat of the Lower Omo Valley. More than any other single factor, the river determines everyday economic practice throughout the region"