Chapter 7

Progress at Any Cost? International Development Banks, Large Hydropower, and the Environment in Ethiopia

By Pat Adams

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Table of Contents:
Research Highlights
Executive Summary
Introduction
Background
Methods
Results
Discussion
Recommendations
Works Cited
Appendices

 


Research Highlights

  • This chapter examines the role of international financial institutions in supporting environmentally and socially conscious infrastructure development, focusing on the construction of two new dams in Ethiopia.
  • The Gibe III will be Africa’s tallest dam; the Grand Renaissance will be Africa’s largest dam.
  • International development banks have not funded either dam, yet they have funded related projects.
  • This research conducts a case study of two large dams through a literature review.
  • Findings show Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. (EEPCo) understates critical social, environmental, and economic impacts in the Gibe III official environmental and social impact assessment.
  • There has not been any impact assessments conducted on the Grand Renaissance Dam.
  • Hydropower can bring development but needs to anticipate and mitigate potential negative impacts.
  • Ethiopia has good cause to be wary of outside intervention in domestic politics, but noninvolvement by development banks points to poor environmental and social outcomes resulting from the dams.
  • Development banks can support socially and environmentally conscious infrastructure development if they remain involved.
  • Since infrastructure projects are integrated with one another, their impacts should be evaluated together.

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Executive Summary

Two massive hydropower dams are currently under construction in Ethiopia. The Gibe III will be Africa’s tallest dam when it is completed in 2013, and the Grand Renaissance will be Africa’s largest dam when it is completed by 2017. According to late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, without them “Ethiopia’s development will come to a screeching halt.”

Hydropower is integral to Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan, the centralized development scheme envisioning Ethiopia as a middle income country by 2025. This paper aims to inform debates over funding future large projects, asking the question: How might international institutions better support environmentally and socially conscious infrastructure development in Ethiopia?

This paper tests the hypotheses that more impact assessments and stricter funding standards of development banks lead to better environmental and social outcomes. Findings suggest that in its zeal to develop with massive hydro, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), the state-owned power utility, understates critical social and environmental impacts of the dams. Of the four impact assessments conducted on the Gibe III Dam, the official assessment is viewed as the least credible. No assessments have been released on the Grand Renaissance Dam.

No international development banks funded the dam projects, yet some have funded international transmission lines that will carry power from the dams, a decision criticized as backdoor support for the dam projects. Instead, Ethiopia is relying on the sale of government bonds and funding from Chinese state banks. These findings indicate a departure from international standards found in the funding criteria of development banks. Ethiopian officials view complying with these standards as a burden and dams as a development imperative requisite at all costs.

Although initial hypotheses predicted more impact assessments and stricter funding standards leading to better outcomes, results suggest a race to the bottom where more impact assessments lead to the least credible one being used, and stricter funding requirements encourage a turn to funders without rigorous standards. Findings suggest:

  • International Financial Institutions should support socially and environmentally conscious infrastructure development in Ethiopia by remaining involved in the process.
  • Jointly evaluating impacts of integrated projects (dams, transmission, and irrigation etc.) can further incentivize international standards, ensuring positive outcomes.

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Introduction

Two massive hydroelectric dams are currently under construction in Ethiopia: the Gibe III Dam, Africa’s tallest, and the Grand Renaissance Dam, Africa’s largest. Ethiopia’s development will “come to a screeching halt” without the dams, according to late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (Greste, 2009). With plans to sell electricity to neighboring Kenya, Djibouti, and Sudan, the dams will produce enough power by 2018 to replace coffee as the nation’s greatest export (McLure, 2008).

Large hydroelectric dams are an important component for sustainable development in Africa because of their many benefits, including flood control, a stable irrigation supply, and low-carbon electricity (World Commission on Dams, 2000). In addition, the availability of financial support through international investment in large dam projects in Africa makes them more feasible and thus more appealing for national governments (EIB, 2005; The World Bank, 2012).

However, large dams like those under construction in Ethiopia come with a host of social and environmental costs including displacement of communities upstream, disruption of watersheds downstream and the communities that depend on them, and the risk of conflict over transboundary water resources (Abbink, 2012; Scudder, 2005a). All proposed dam projects in Ethiopia must complete an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) (Baumgartner, 2012). However, independent observers have criticized recent ESIAs conducted on behalf of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Ethiopia’s sole power utility. Some experts have noted that potential negative impacts are overlooked or not adequately addressed, particularly the effects of the Gibe III Dam (Abbink, 2012; AWRG, 2009; Baumgartner, 2012).

This paper asks: How might international institutions better support environmentally and socially conscious infrastructure development in Ethiopia?  Specifically this paper studies the role of international financial institutions in two major hydropower projects in Ethiopia, the Gibe III Dam and the Grand Renaissance Dam. Case studies of the two projects are conducted through a literature review, while correspondence with experts aims to evaluate the process by which environmental and social impacts have been assessed and incorporated into funding decisions of international institutions. The findings of this study could help to inform debates over funding future large dam projects in Africa, and may provide opportunities to improve the process by which major infrastructure projects are evaluated and undertaken.

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Background

Ethiopia’s highlands feed East Africa’s major watersheds through steep and narrow river valleys, which have long been recognized for their potential to produce hydroelectric power (EEPCo, 2012; Matthews et al., 2013). The nation has the capacity to generate up to 45,000 megawatts (MW) from hydropower, of which only 2,000 MW are currently installed (AfDB, 2012). These conditions give Ethiopia a comparative advantage regarding hydropower, which governments often view as a source of cheap, renewable energy for economic development (Scudder, 1989). Many in the international community are sympathetic with this view, characterizing large hydro as a necessary development mechanism for low-income countries, despite its flaws (Alhassan, 2009; Scudder, 2005b; World Commission on Dams, 2000).

Hydropower is central to Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the legacy of late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This integrated, state-led development scheme envisions Ethiopia rising to a middle income country by 2025 (MFED, 2012). It includes hydropower as a critical driver of economic development and plans to quintuple current hydropower production from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW by 2015, achieved mostly through the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Dams (Economist, 2011; Matthews et al., 2013; McLure, 2008; MFED, 2012). Dams will fuel burgeoning domestic manufacturing, produce power for export to satisfy the region’s booming demand, and irrigate new agricultural plantations sowed with cash crops like sugarcane (Abbink, 2012; Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, 2011; MFED, 2012). The two dams considered in this study are not the first to be constructed in Ethiopia; however, they will be the largest by far in the nation’s history. Eclipsing their predecessors in both size and generation capacity, their total production will more than double overall electricity production (McLure, 2008).

Hydropower is central to Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the legacy of late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This integrated, state-led development scheme envisions Ethiopia rising to a middle income country by 2025 (MFED, 2012). It includes hydropower as a critical driver of economic development and plans to quintuple current hydropower production from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW by 2015, achieved mostly through the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Dams (Economist, 2011; Matthews et al., 2013; McLure, 2008; MFED, 2012). Dams will fuel burgeoning domestic manufacturing, produce power for export to satisfy the region’s booming demand, and irrigate new agricultural plantations sowed with cash crops like sugarcane (Abbink, 2012; Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, 2011; MFED, 2012). The two dams considered in this study are not the first to be constructed in Ethiopia; however, they will be the largest by far in the nation’s history. Eclipsing their predecessors in both size and generation capacity, their total production will more than double overall electricity production (McLure, 2008).

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Methods

This research uses a case study of two exceptional cases, the Gibe III Dam and the Grand Renaissance Dam, to investigate the role of international financial institutions in Ethiopian infrastructure projects. Each of these dams is far larger and more expensive than previous dams, and may be unique in the lack of funding from development organizations.

In order to synthesize existing impact assessments, and to determine the involvement by international actors in funding each project, this research conducts a comprehensive literature review that includes scholarly journals, news articles, official government documents and websites, and reports and websites of NGOs. Correspondence with experts in the field further helps evaluate independent studies on potential impacts of the dams.

This study tests two theoretical hypotheses:

  • A higher number of impact assessments leads to a better understanding of environmental and social impacts and in turn better environmental and social outcomes;
  • Stricter requirements by international financial institutions prevent ‘bad’ projects from receiving funding, ensuring better environmental and social outcomes (Figure 3).

In order to synthesize existing impact assessments, and to determine the involvement by international actors in funding each project, this research conducts a comprehensive literature review that includes scholarly journals, news articles, official government documents and websites, and reports and websites of NGOs. Correspondence with experts in the field further helps evaluate independent studies on potential impacts of the dams.

This study tests two theoretical hypotheses:

  • A higher number of impact assessments leads to a better understanding of environmental and social impacts and in turn better environmental and social outcomes;
  • Stricter requirements by international financial institutions prevent ‘bad’ projects from receiving funding, ensuring better environmental and social outcomes (Figure 3).

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Results

The literature revealed significant international investment in recent energy infrastructure projects in Ethiopia and East Africa, international standards for large hydropower projects, and widespread criticism of the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Projects for not following those standards.

International Standards for Dam Projects

The World Commission on Dams established guidelines for all phases of dam projects from planning to decommission (Dubash, Dupar, Kothari, & Lissu, 2001). The final report’s recommendations established international standards for a credible multi-stakeholder process: once hydropower is deemed to be the most appropriate option (after consultation with local stakeholders) a rigorous evaluation of social, environmental, and economic impacts should be undertaken (World Commission on Dams, 2000). The central theme of the Commission is that hydropower has great potential to bring development benefits but must be carefully weighed against its negative impacts.

The Commission characterized dams as having “made an important and significant contribution to development, and the benefits derived from them have been considerable”(World Commission on Dams, 2000). Some scholars who criticize hydro also argue it can be a necessary development mechanism for many countries despite its flaws (Alhassan, 2009; Scudder, 2005b).

Impact Assessments and Criticism

As previously mentioned, hydropower is central to late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s plan to catapult Ethiopia to middle-income country status by 2025 under the banner of the Growth and Transformation Plan. Citing the potential to control floods, irrigate new agricultural plantations, fuel industry, and export power abroad, the Ethiopian government describes the dams as necessary at all costs (MFED, 2012; Zenawi, 2011). Many academics, activists, journalists, and economists worry that in its zeal to develop by means of massive hydro, the projects do not adequately consider critical social, environmental, and economic impacts (Abbink, 2012; Davison, 2012a; Eastwood & Elbagir, 2012; IMF, 2012; Matthews et al., 2013).

Four studies were conducted on the environmental and social impacts of the Gibe III Dam (Avery, 2010; AWRG, 2009; EEPCo, 2009; Velpuri & Senay, 2012). The studies exhibit considerable variability in impact estimates, which are summarized in Table 2, along with the methods used. Discussion in this paper does not dwell on the Gibe III impact estimates themselves, but instead emphasizes how they were conducted. No impact assessments have been released on the Grand Renaissance Dam, however, and while the official website of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation includes a page for ESIAs on the Grand Renaissance Dam, none are listed (EEPCo, 2012). EEPCo reports that an International Panel of Experts will release a study on the dam in May 2013. However, two years of construction will be completed by that time, and the panel is billed more as an effort to “build mutual trust between the [Nile Basin] countries” than a legitimate effort to assess impacts (Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, 2012).

EISAs for past energy infrastructure projects in Ethiopia were conducted using transparent methodology that was deemed legitimate by independent appraisers (EEPCo, 2004). The Ethiopian government points to the ESIA commissioned by EEPCo to say the Gibe III Dam will have a positive effect on the Omo River Basin, Lake Turkana, and their peoples (Development Bank of Ethiopia, 2011; EEPCo, 2009; Greste, 2009). The government also says the Grand Renaissance Dam will benefit all of the Nile Basin Countries, but has not released a study. Despite these claims, results reveal widespread criticism of both dams.

The Gibe III Dam is criticized for the validity of the EEPCo impact assessment and the project’s potential negative impacts. A cluster of scholars referring to themselves as the Africa Resources Working Group rejects the validity of the ESIA used by EEPCo in their widely-cited critique: “The quantitative (and qualitative) data included in virtually all major sections of the report were clearly selected for their consistence with the predetermined objective of validating the completion of the Gibe III hydrodam”(AWRG, 2009). While the Group’s comments on the report are not peer reviewed, others echo the same conclusion on the ESIA (Abbink, 2012; Avery, 2010; Greste, 2009; Matthews et al., 2013).

The Gibe III Dam is also criticized for directly and indirectly related infrastructure projects. The EEPCo ESIA, which explicitly says the dam will not impact conserved land including national parks, is further called into question by reports illustrating the impacts of related irrigation projects. The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority demonstrates that sugarcane plantations planned and already under construction overlap with national park areas (EWCA, 2011). Outside research on Lake Turkana submitted to UNESCO emphasizes that these sugarcane plantations are irrigated by channels only viable because of the regulated water flow provided by the dam (Debonnet & Gugić, 2012). International transmission lines carrying power from the dam have been funded by development banks. The decision is characterized as “backdoor funding” for the Gibe III project and is condemned by a number of international NGOs including, Human Rights Watch, Survival International, and International Rivers Friends of Lake Turkana (Human Rights Watch, 2012; Pottinger, 2012; Survival International, 2012).

No environmental and social impact assessments have been released on the Grand Renaissance Dam. The project receives criticism for not carrying out an ESIA, for not consulting with downstream nations before construction began, and for its high costs (Anyimadu, 2011; Eastwood & Elbagir, 2012; Pearce, 2010; Tadesse, 2012). In contrast to the Gibe III Dam, the Grand Renaissance Dam has received more attention for its economic and political costs than environmental and social concerns. The International Monetary Fund questions the long term economic viability of the U.S. $4.7 billion project, citing concerns that high levels of domestic debt might derail economic development (IMF, 2012). Meanwhile, academics and journalists emphasize the dam’s effect on the complex international politics of the Nile River Pearce, 2010; Tadesse, 2012).

International Investment Decisions

This section summarizes investment by international actors in Ethiopia’s power infrastructure, specifically this study’s two cases, the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Dams. The literature revealed support among international financial institutions for hydropower, regional power sharing, and the economic goals outlined in the Growth and Transformation Plan (AfDB, n.d.; EIB, 2012; IMF, 2012; World Bank, 2012a). Despite this support, no international development bank has committed funding to either dam. However, many have funded  other infrastructure projects under the plan, including international transmission lines that will deliver power supplied by the dams (MFED, 2012).

The World Bank

The World Bank’s investments in Ethiopia aim to support the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan. The Bank agrees with the Government of Ethiopia that power is by far the nation’s greatest infrastructural constraint to development (Foster & Morella, 2011). Thus, the World Bank commits itself to developing regional energy infrastructure and advocates hydropower as a sensible option due to its abundant potential in Ethiopia (Foster & Morella, 2011). While the World Bank funded the first dam on the Omo River (the Gilgel Gibe Dam, now referred to as the Gibe I Dam,) it has not been directly involved with the Gibe II or Gibe III Dams on the Omo (Matthews et al., 2013). However, the World Bank is actively involved in financing transmission lines as part of its mission to shore up regional power infrastructure in East Africa. The bank has lent hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars for transmission  lines within Ethiopia and to Sudan and Kenya (Pottinger, 2012; World Bank, 2012a).

African Development Bank

The African Development Bank (AfDB) also supports the Government of Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan as well as regional power sharing. The bank is also actively financing international transmission lines in East Africa. AfDB funded through loans and grants over U.S. $39 million in 2004 and 2008 for a line between Ethiopia and Djibouti, and in 2012 the bank approved U.S. $348 million for a transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya. Regarding Ethiopian dams, the AfDB has been involved with the impact assessments for the Gibe III Dam. AfDB commissioned a study on the dam’s effect on Lake Turkana in Kenya (Avery, 2010).

European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) funded past hydro projects in Ethiopia, including EUR €41 million for the Gibe I Dam in 1998, and EUR €50 million to the Gibe II Dam in 2005 (EIB, 1998, 2005). The bank considered funding the Gibe III Dam in 2009 but declined by 2010. Pressure from blogs and NGOs to deny the project had been mounting, but the EIB said their decision to discontinue its involvement with the Gibe III Dam resulted from the project securing “alternative finance and not the results of these preliminary studies” of environmental and social impacts (EIB, 2010). The bank reaffirmed its support for regional energy infrastructure development, such as international transmission lines, which they have funded in West Africa (EIB, 2010).

Chinese Financial Institutions

Chinese financial institutions also actively fund infrastructure development in Ethiopia. The Industrial Commercial Bank of China loaned nearly U.S. $500 million in electrical equipment for the Gibe III Dam (Abbink, 2012). Chinese involvement in Ethiopian infrastructure development rose rapidly since 2002 and is projected to continue its significant growth (Anyimadu, 2011). By 2009, Chinese institutions were involved in at least 93 overseas hydro projects (McDonald et al., 2009). A series of dams following the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance projects will be financed by the “Big Three” Chinese banks and constructed by Sino Hydro Corporation, the same company that built the Three Gorges Dam in China (the world’s largest dam), or the China Gezhouba Group, another Chinese hydro firm (Abbink, 2012; Matthews et al., 2013). The Chinese Development Bank agreed to U.S. $500 million in loans to fund two sugarcane plantations under construction along the southern stretches of the Omo River (Davison, 2012b). The plantations are two of many outlined in the Growth and Transformation Plan, which envisions increasing sugarcane production tenfold by 2025 to boost revenue from exports (MFED, 2012). Plantations will be irrigated with water diverted from the Gibe III reservoir (Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, 2011).

Perspectives on the Process
International Perspectives

The international development banks considered in this report all support hydropower, and the process guidelines recommended by the World Commission on Dams were integrated into their funding processes, albeit to various degrees (Dubash et al., 2001). Only the African Development Bank explicitly incorporated the recommendations, but the World Bank and European Investment Bank also require options and impact assessments in a similar way (Table 3) (Dubash et al., 2001; World Bank, 2001).

Ethiopian Perspectives

Many Ethiopian officials express discontent with international standards for dam projects. Although the Commission’s final report received broad praise for its independent analysis, inclusion of diverse perspectives, and comprehensive guidelines, no dam-building national government has adopted the Commission’s recommendations (Briscoe, 2010). Ethiopia was one of the national governments to criticize the report, saying the guidelines were superfluous because existing Ethiopian regulations were adequate: “Nowadays the need for proper compensation and the rights of the people for development and decision [making] are enshrined in the national Constitution and social and environmental impact assessments” (Dubash et al., 2001).

With regards to the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Dams, sentiments by EEPCo officials illustrate frustration with World Bank policies, saying they are too burdensome. In a 2009 interview with BBC journalist Peter Greste at the Gibe III construction site, head of EEPCo Mihret Debebe described ESIAs as “luxurious preconditions.”  In a 2012 interview with The Reporter, a prominent English-language newspaper in Ethiopia, EEPCo’s board chairman Debretsion G. Michael said the World Bank has “very stringent regulations over environmental issues” and can ask “exaggerated questions.”  Michael explained that he prefers a diversity of dam funding sources, but that the international standards hamper EEPCo’s work. Instead, he noted that countries like China, South Korea, India, and Brazil are also willing to fund power projects. Michael characterized the nature of infrastructure funding from China in contrast to the World Bank:

The Chinese only focus on the viability of the project. They want to make sure that if they can recover the loan, they will provide funds to the projects. They pay due attention to the feasibility study. If they are convinced on the commercial viability of the project, they would grant the loan. They do not attach other issues to the loan request. The Chinese give deaf ears to the cries of NGOs (Michael, 2012).

Debebe responded to questions over international standards by describing the urgency of developing hydropower: “Africa is in darkness. Give us a choice. Should we stay in darkness? Should we avoid all this development?” (Greste, 2009).

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Discussion

At the groundbreaking ceremony of the Grand Renaissance Dam, Late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said:

No matter how poor we are, in the Ethiopian traditions of resolve, the Ethiopian people will pay any sacrifice. I have no doubt they will, with one voice, say: “Build the Dam!” (Zenawi, 2011).

Recent research reaffirms the usefulness of environmental impact assessment (also called strategic environmental assessment, SEA) as an intentional decision-making tool, but underscores challenges in conducting these assessments, especially those faced by developing countries (Ruffeis & Loiskandl, 2010; Tajziehchi, 2011; van Doren, Driessen, Schijf, & Runhaar, 2013). A key takeaway of the World Commission on Dams Final Report is that impacts must be assessed before beginning a dam project. In both cases, contractors signed no-bid agreements and broke ground before commissioning ESIAs. The timing and variability of ESIAs indicates the assessment process for both dams has ignored potential costs. Likewise, that construction began on both dams before impact assessments were conducted suggests a decision to bypass the standards outlined by the World Commission on Dams, and the funding criteria of international development banks. By sidestepping the impact assessment process required for funding, the government of Ethiopia appears to be trying to complete the dams – and bring development – as fast as possible. By justifying hydropower dams at any cost, Ethiopia is treating dams as a development imperative.

Of particular note to international development organizations is that this phenomenon of viewing hydropower as a development imperative, regardless of environmental, social, and even economic costs, is not confined to Ethiopia. Scholars and activists have raised similar concerns over massive dam projects in other parts of the world. McDonald et al. studied Chinese hydropower projects in Sudan, concluding that many “have unrecognized social and environmental costs for host communities. Chinese dam builders have yet to adopt internationally accepted social and environmental standards for large infrastructure development that can assure these costs are adequately taken into account” (Mcdonald et al., 2009). In their discussions of large dams in East Africa, both Scudder and Matthews draw parallels between the dam boom in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and the one in Ethiopia. “Hydropower that takes into account its short- and long-term social and environmental costs can be an appropriate technology; however when hydropower is poorly planned, as is currently seen in the Mekong Basin, the potential long-term costs far outweigh the benefits” (Matthews et al., 2013). Another researcher discussing hydropower in Southeast Asia draws conclusions from projects there that are relevant to those in Ethiopia. Council on Foreign Relations expert Joshua Kurlantzkick follows a list of criticisms of large dams in Southeast Asia with this conclusion:

All this is not to suggest that large dams are never the right option. Hydropower is a cleaner, renewable energy source, and it is one form of powering energy-hungry countries and supporting otherwise poor, landlocked countries like Laos or eager companies from China. Yet in the rush for huge gains in power and profits, companies and countries in Southeast Asia and beyond would do well to understand that in pursuing big dams, they could also incur large political risks, raise safety concerns and trigger devastating regional effects. If they do not, we are likely to see these [negative] headlines become even more frequent in the near future (Kurlantzkick, 2011).

The lack of involvement by international financial institutions has posed challenges for Ethiopia aside from potential negative environmental and social impacts. International funding, a major component of most large infrastructure projects of this ilk, has been far more difficult to acquire, evidenced by the single international loan for the Gibe III Dam and none for the Grand Renaissance Dam. Of the U.S. $6.7 billion total cost of both dams, less than $500 million is accounted for by international sources. In addition to threats posed by environmental and social impacts, the economic costs of massive hydro could derail the very development they were designed to provide. Large dams tend to overestimate benefits, and underestimate costs (World Commission on Dams, 2000). Matthews et al. (2013) note the risks in such costly projects: “If Ethiopia is to be successful in developing its ambitious [Growth and Transformation Plan] then a large volume of foreign investment will be required. An onerous effort at domestic financing could have wider repercussions for the economy that might negate positive benefits achieved through power generation.”

The noninvolvement of international financial institutions in the Gibe III and Grand Renaissance Dams suggests a race to the bottom at two levels:

  • While hypothesis 1 predicted that more impact assessments would lead to better environmental and social outcomes, where a variety of impact assessments were conducted in the case of the Gibe III Dam, the one of the lowest quality was used, the ESIA commissioned by EEPCo.
  • While hypothesis 2 predicted stricter environmental requirements by international funders would lead to better environmental and social outcomes, the requirements encouraged a turn to funders with few environmental standards, such as the Chinese banks referred to by Mr. Michael (Figure 4).
The noninvolvement by international financial institutions points towards poor outcomes resulting from the completion of the dams. Ethiopia has good cause to be wary of outside intervention in domestic politics, but this study points toward a trend of larger dams aligned with lower standards and fewer sources of funding, a pattern not likely to beget the development Ethiopia urgently needs. In order for these and future dams to be successful at bringing about sustainable development, growth must be weighed against critical social, environmental, and economic concerns. This process is one that could be facilitated by international financial institutions. Rather than dropping the projects, the results of this research indicate that by staying involved in the process, international financial institutions could play a role in ensuring project implementers take adequate measures to mitigate anticipated impacts.

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Recommendations

Considering the increased likelihood of poor outcomes in their absence, international financial institutions should investigate ways to remain involved in the process of large infrastructure development in Ethiopia. In order to encourage positive outcomes, these institutions should seek ways to further incentivize compliance with international standards. One way to do this is by jointly evaluating related infrastructure projects. The Growth and Transformation Plan connects dams to transmission lines, irrigation channels, and industrial agriculture plantations, so jointly evaluating their environmental and social impacts is likely to provide a fuller picture of the costs and benefits of large infrastructure.

To summarize, this chapter recommends the following:

  • International Financial Institutions can support socially and environmentally conscious infrastructure development in Ethiopia if they remained involved in the process;
  • Since Ethiopian infrastructure projects are integrated with one another, their impacts should be jointly assessed; and
  • Joint assessment can incentivize compliance with international standards, ensuring positive outcomes for all infrastructure projects.

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Chapter 7 Appendices

Appendix 7A

Table 2 Sources

(Avery, 2010; AWRG, 2009; EEPCo, 2009; Velpuri & Senay, 2012).

Appendix 7B

Table 3 Sources

(AfDB, n.d., 2012; Davison, 2012b; Dubash et al., 2001; Imhof, Wong, & Bosshard, 2002; World Bank, 2001, 2012b).

Appendix 7C

Email with Dr. Sean Avery, hydrologist and environmental engineer

26 October, 2012

My name is Pat Adams. I am working with Professor Travis Reynolds of the Colby College Environmental Studies Program to study two large hydropower dams in Ethiopia, the Gibe III Dam and the Grand Renaissance Dam. My hope is to identify ways international institutions might better support environmental and social goals when undertaking large dam projects in Ethiopia and East Africa.

As you are an expert on the hydrological impacts of the Gibe III Dam, I am eager to learn from you about the process by which impact assessments are conducted and subsequently evaluated by international institutions. In addition to your own work, a number of other assessments have been made of the Gibe III Dam, and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on those conducted by EEPCo (2009), AWRG (2009), and Velpuri, Senay, and Asante (2012).

Additionally, although many blogs and news outlets have information on the Grand Renaissance Dam, I have been unable to find any official documents (ESIAs or other environmental/social evaluation reports) describing the anticipated impacts of that dam project. Are you able to provide any information on that dam in particular?  Are you aware of any official impact assessments conducted on the Grand Renaissance Dam?  Are there any other experts who might be willing to speak with me about the Grand Renaissance Dam?

Any information you have regarding the above topics would be much appreciated. I am happy to set up a time to chat on the telephone or via Skype. Many thanks and best regards.

26 October, 2012

EEPCo 2009 – was not independent, did not take into account consumptive use impacts by irrigation, and disregarded Lake Turkana altogether

ARWG 2009 – raised good points, some valid, some not valid, but no supporting data provided, authors incognito. In terms of impacts, they were on the nail

Velpuri et al 2012 – this report reduces me to despair. It repeats findings reported three years ago and omitted altogether impacts of irrigation. Interesting academic exercise in hydrological modelling, but should not have ventured into determining the impacts of Gibe III without proper ground knowledge and full consideration. The irrigation impacts were clearly shown by the 2009 / 2010 AFDB studies to pose the biggest environmental threats. The irrigation schemes are directly dependant on the Gibe III regulated flows, hence BOTH must be considered. See the link I attach below. UNESCO support my views on impact threats.

My own updated study commissioned by the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, England, is being submitted next week. When available, this will answer your queries, and includes detailed reviews of all published data and processes, and includes clear recommendations on what should be done, and what the problems are. I am closely involved in ongoing activities that target the issues you are also dealing with, from my base here in Kenya.

My studies on Lake Turkana and the Lower Omo are the only ones to acknowledge the major impacts of irrigation and that the schemes are a dependant consequence of storage dams like Gibe III, and Gibe IV in the future.