Monday, June 27, 2011

Sudan seeks to tap 'blue gold' with new dam projects - Power & Utilities - Zawya

Sudan seeks to tap 'blue gold' with new dam projects
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By Abdelmoneim Abu Edris Ali

ROSEIRES DAM, Jun 26, 2011 (AFP) - Sudan is aggressively seeking to tap its abundant Nile waters with new dam projects as the oil-rich south's independence looms, but experts warn of the social and environmental costs, and the bearing on the Nile water sharing dispute.

Khartoum sits on the confluence of the Blue and White Niles.

The cash-strapped government has good reasons for wanting to exploit its "blue gold," a valuable resource that will help to offset the imminent loss of revenues from southern oil -- some 36 percent of its income -- when south Sudan proclaims independence on July 9.

"Sudan is clearly gearing up in terms of agriculture, because of the oil gap that comes with the separation of the south. To the extent that it can do more in the way of dams, that is its economic security," said a Sudan-based environmentalist, requesting anonymity.

Last week, during a ministerial visit, the engineer responsible for heightening the vast Roseires dam, on the Blue Nile, said the $400 million project, which is due for completion in June 2012, would create three million feddans (1.3 million hectares) of farmland.

It will also more than double the amount of water the reservoir can store -- to 7.4 billion cubic metres -- and raise its 280 megawatts of power generation capacity by 50 percent.

The Atbara and Seteet dams being built in Kassala state, meanwhile, will add another one million feddans of new farmland and have a combined generation capacity of 320 megawatts when they are completed in September 2015, at a cost $840 million, according to their chief engineer.

The Gulf-funded and Chinese-built dam projects that the Sudanese government has embarked on dwarf other public development programmes.

"Sudan's ambitious dam strategy has been the single biggest source of discretionary spending in the last few years and represents a key development priority," said Harry Verhoeven, an expert on water and agriculture in Sudan, in a report published this month by the Chatham House think tank.

"The Merowe Dam alone (completed in 2009 at a cost of more than $2 billion) took up almost 40 percent of total public investment in national development projects between 2005 and 2008."

But there are doubts about the cost effectiveness of such massive schemes, and major concerns about the displacement of tens of thousands families, as well as the environmental implications of building the dams at relatively low altitude.

The raising of Roseires is expected to see the resettlement of 22,000 families, which the Minister of Electricity and Dams, Osama Abdullah, said would prevent them from being affected by the seasonal flooding of the Nile.

But others say the change will be a traumatic experience for those forced to move, as with the more than 40,000 people who were ordered to leave their homes to make way for the Merowe dam and its vast reservoir three years ago.

In addition, as Verhoeven argues, if such projects had been built on Ethiopia's stretch of the Blue Nile, at higher altitude, the evaporation rates would have been seven times lower than in Sudan and caused less displacement.

But Sudan appears in no mood to question its projects, and is negotiating with a another Chinese contractor to build the Kajbar dam further downstream, on the third cataract of the Nile, at an estimated cost of $700 million.

Some experts point to another factor motivating Sudan's dam building strategy, namely concerns about its future allocation of Nile waters.

Upstream countries that share the Nile River basin have demanded the revision of colonial-era agreements that allot more than 90 percent of the river's water to Egypt and Sudan and allow Cairo to veto upstream projects.

The revised agreement has been signed by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi and seeks to allow irrigation and hydroelectric projects to go ahead without downstream consent.

"The sticking point in renegotiating the Nile basin treaty is the allocation of water quantities," said the environmentalist who asked not to be named.

"Unlike Egypt, Sudan is not using all of its existing allocation. That is partly why Sudan is so keen to build new dams. It gives it a stronger position when they're negotiating the new treaty," he added.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nabro volcano, Eritrea June 25, 2011 NASA

June 25, 2011 - Activity at Nabro volcano, Eritrea
Activity at Nabro volcano, EritreaImage used for Spacing Purposes
Date Acquired:6/24/2011
Resolutions:1km (39.9 KB)
500m (112.8 KB)
250m (276 KB)
Bands Used:1,4,3
Credit:Jeff Schmaltz
MODIS Land Rapid Response Team,

Strong volcanic activity continued at Nabro volcano, Eritrea in late June, 2011, almost two weeks after the volcano sprang to life after a series of earthquakes shook the Eritrea-Ethiopia border region. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image at 7:25 UTC (10:25 a.m.) local time on June 24, 2011.

Shortly after midnight local time on June 13, the volcano spewed a large ash plume about 8 miles (15 km) high and disrupted air traffic over parts of the Middle East. Prior to that day, there had been no eruptions of this volcano during historic times. The initial eruption contained large amounts of ash as well as very high levels of sulfur dioxide. By June 20, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center reported that the sulfur dioxide eruption continued.

In this image, the large red hotspots represent areas of increased surface temperature, an expected result of volcanic activity. A very large, white, billowing plume can be seen rising from near the hotspots and blowing to the southwest. The difference in the character of the eruption can be seen by comparing this image to the MODIS Image of the Day for June 21 (image captured on June 19), when the large plume was primarily dark brown in color.

On June 22, a report from the Eritrea Ministry of Energy and Mines, Eritrea stated that the ash and lava emitted from the Southern Red Sea region volcano has created a new land mass measuring hundreds of square meters

The Coming Water Crisis (TAM)

by Habib Siddiqui

Nearly 71% of our earth is covered with water of which only 2.5% is fresh water, and the remainder 97.5% is salt water. Of this fresh water nearly 70% (or 1.75% of total water) is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland. The remainder 0.75% of the total water is perhaps the world’s most important resource that is found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, underground aquifers and other sources.

Water demand is increasing rapidly worldwide. Of the fresh water consumed by humans, nearly 70%is used to produce food. In Asia, e.g., 86% total water withdrawal is in the agriculture sector. Fresh water is also consumed for household, municipal and industrial uses. As the world population rises, while water consumption per capita increases with urbanization and the rapid development of manufacturing industries, the fresh water supplies are increasingly becoming smaller with contaminated lakes, rivers, groundwater aquifers and reservoirs.

Large parts of the world are running out of water. A paper presented by the World Bank entitled “The Aftermath of Current Situation in the Absence of Work” concluded that Yemen will run out of water in the period between 2020 and 2050. Sana - the capital of Yemen - is likely to be the first capital city to completely run dry in a few years. In parts of Pakistan and India, groundwater levels are falling so rapidly that from 10% to 20% of agricultural production is under threat. Some 60% of China’s 669 cities are already short of water and the current record drought in several of China’s region is directly linked to their problems with water scarcity. In northern China, rivers now run dry in their lower reaches for much of the year. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water.

The division of the river basin water has created friction among the countries of South Asia, and among their states and provinces. The Indus River Basin has been an area of conflict between India and Pakistan for about four decades. Spanning 1,800 miles, the river and its tributaries together make up one of the largest irrigation canals in the world. Dams and canals built in order to provide hydropower and irrigation have dried up stretches of the Indus River. India and Bangladesh have also dispute over the Ganges/Padma and Teesta Rivers water and India is resorting to water theft there as well. Nepal and Bangladesh are also victims of India’s water thievery. India had dispute with Bangladesh over Farakka Barrage, with Nepal over Mahakali River and with Pakistan over 1960 Indus Water Treaty. As I have noted elsewhere, the damns and barrages built inside India on many of the common rivers have made navigation inside Bangladesh during the dry seasons almost impossible.

India is busy building dams on all rivers flowing into Pakistan from occupied Kashmir to regain control of water of western rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty. This is being done to render Pakistan’s link-canal system redundant, destroy agriculture of Pakistan which is its mainstay, and turn Pakistan into a desert. India has plans to construct 62 dams/hydro-electric units on the Chenab and Jhelum Rivers, which would render these rivers dry by 2014. Using its clout in Afghanistan, India has succeeded in convincing Karzai regime to build a dam on River Kabul and set up Kama Hydroelectric Project She has offered technical assistance for the proposed project, which will have serious repercussions on the water flow in the Indus River.

China has built some 20 dams on the eight great Tibetan rivers while some 40 more are planned or proposed for construction in coming years. China also admitted that she is building a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River, which will rise to 3,260 meters, thus making it the highest dam in the world. The river originates in Tibet, but then flows into India and Bangladesh where it is called Brahmaputra and Jamuna, respectively, and is a major water source for millions of people. Recently, the Chinese government has taken on a grand, ambitious and $62 billion expensive project called the South-North Water Diversion Project to divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people.

Ethiopia is building three dams, two of them large and one controversial, for environmental reasons. Of these, the Great Millennium Dam, along the Nile River about 25 miles from the Sudan border, will cost nearly $5 billion. The dam will section off a larger portion of the Nile than is used now by Ethiopia, and will have a devastating effect on Egypt. The new Egyptian government has instructed its military to prepare for any eventuality regarding a crucial water dispute with neighboring Ethiopia.

Violent incidents over wells and springs take place periodically in Yemen, and the long-running civil war in Darfur owes partly to the chronic scarcity of water in western Sudan. The Six-day War in the Middle East in 1967 similarly was partly prompted by Jordan’s proposal to divert the Jordan River in response to Israel’s siphoning off of water from the Sea of Galilee all the way to the Negev Desert. And water remains a divisive issue between Israel and its neighbors to this day. Israel extracts about 65% of the upper Jordan, leaving the occupied West Bank dependent on a brackish trickle and a mountain aquifer, access to which Israel also controls. In 2004 the average Israeli had a daily allowance of 290 liters of domestic water, while the average Palestinian less than 70.

International river basins extend across the borders of 145 countries, and some rivers flow through several countries. The Congo, Niger, Nile, Rhine and Zambezi are each shared among 9 to 11 countries, and 19 countries share the Danube basin. The 1569 mile long Ganges/Padma River is shared by both India and Bangladesh. The longer Brahmaputra River is shared between China, India and Bangladesh. Adding to the complications is the fact that some countries, especially in Africa and south Asia, rely on several rivers, e.g., 22 rise in Guinea. Some 280 aquifers also cross borders. Consider also the fact that many of Bangladesh’s 250 rivers originate from the Himalayas and run through India before flushing out to the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean. Bangladeshi scientists estimated that even a 10 to 20% reduction in the water flow to the country could dry out great areas for much of the year.

As global food prices rise and exporters reduce shipments of commodities, countries that rely on imported grain are panicking. Countries like South Korea, China and India have descended on fertile plains across the African continent, acquiring huge tracts of land to produce wheat, rice and corn for consumption back home. These land grabs shrink the food supply in famine-prone African nations and anger local farmers, who see their governments selling their ancestral lands to foreigners. The land grabs to the south also pose a grave threat to Africa’s newest democracy, Egypt, in her ability to put bread on the table because all of her grain is either imported or produced with water from the Nile River, which flows north through Ethiopia and Sudan before reaching Egypt.

The Nile Waters Agreement, which Egypt and Sudan signed in 1959, gave Egypt 75% of the river’s flow, 25% to Sudan and none to Ethiopia. This situation is changing abruptly as wealthy foreign governments and international agri-businesses snatch up large swaths of arable land along the Upper Nile. While these deals are typically described as land acquisitions, they are also, in effect, water acquisitions.

Just as wars over oil played a major role in 20th-century history, there is growing evidence that many 21st century conflicts will be fought over water. In “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization,” journalist Steven Solomon argues that water is surpassing oil as the world’s scarcest critical resource.

From Turkey, the southern bastion of NATO, down to South Africa, and from China and Indonesia in the east to Mauritania in the west, most of the countries of Asia and Africa are worrying today about how they will satisfy the needs of their burgeoning industries, or find drinking water for the extra millions born each year, not to mention agriculture, the main cause of depleting water resources in the region. According to Solomon our world is divided into water haves and have-nots. China, Egypt and Pakistan are just a few countries facing critical water issues in the 21st century.

Water is irreplaceable and its use in the past century grew twice as fast as world population. Solomon writes, “We’re going to have to find a way to use the existing water resources in a far, far more productive manner than we ever did before, because there’s simply not enough.” That control and manipulation of water resources should be a pivotal axis of power and human achievement throughout history is hardly surprising. Water has always been man’s most indispensable natural resource, and one endowed with special, seemingly magical powers of physical transformation derived from its unique thermodynamic properties and extraordinary roles in earth’s geological and biological processes.

Through the centuries, societies have struggled politically, militarily, and economically to control the world’s water wealth: to erect cities around it, to transport goods upon it, to harness its latent energy in various forms, to utilize it as a vital input of agriculture and industry, and to extract political advantage from it. Solomon says: “Every era has been shaped by its response to the great water challenge of its time. And so it is unfolding-on an epic scale-today. An impending global crisis of freshwater scarcity is fast emerging as a defining fulcrum of world politics and human civilization. For the first time in history, modern society’s unquenchable thirst, industrial technological capabilities, and sheer population growth from 6 to 9 billion is significantly outstripping the sustainable supply of fresh, clean water available from nature using current practices and technologies.”

Freshwater is an Achilles’ heel of fast-growing giants China and India, which both face imminent tipping points from unsustainable water practices that will determine whether they lose their ability to feed themselves and cause their industrial expansions to prematurely sputter. “The lesson of history is that in the tumultuous adjustment that surely lies ahead, those societies that find the most innovative responses to the crisis are most likely to come out as winners, while the others will fall behind. Civilization will be shaped as well by water’s inextricable, deep interdependencies with energy, food, and climate change… By grasping the lessons of water’s pivotal role on our destiny, we will be better prepared to cope with the crisis about to engulf us all,” writes Solomon.

But has our generation grasped those lessons that are so critical for our survival? Basic human needs for water should be fully acknowledged as a top international priority. Basic ecosystem water needs should be identified and met. Our irrigation systems remain very inefficient, wasting as much as 60% of the total water pumped before it reaches the intended crop. If need be, we also have to alter our food habits into growing crops that require less water. Water conservation through better planning, management, and technologies offers great promise to minimizing water usage in household, agricultural and industrial sectors. As noted by Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and the author of “World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse,” for the sake of peace and future development cooperation, the nations of the Nile River Basin should come together to ban land grabs by foreign governments and agri-business firms. Since there is no precedent for this, international help in negotiating such a ban would likely be necessary to make it a reality. Finally, serious water-related conflicts should be resolved through formal negotiations.

Sadly, few agreements have been reached about how the water should be shared; most of those agreements are seen as unjust: upstream countries believe that they should control the flow of the rivers, taking what they like, if they can get away with it. Thus, it is not too surprising to hear India’s whining about Chinese thievery of Brahmaputra water, while she herself is stealing water from Bangladesh on some other rivers that originate from India.

In his lecture at the Geneva conference on Environment and Quality of Life in June 1994, Adel Darwish said, “International law is not clear on the right of upstream countries to control either surface or ground water.” It is also not clear on the shared water courses, rivers or cross border aquifers. That situation, regrettably, has not improved an iota.

The non-clarity of international law remains a matter of grave concern. There are few, if any, precedents that the UN international law commission or the International court of justice could be cited to establish some rules to arbitrate on water sharing; but so far no country has volunteered to do so.

If we want to avoid wars of the future, culminating from water, international laws must be formulated that pledge survival of the lower riparian, downstream countries through equitable share of the common water. Dams and barrages that can alter the vital ecosystem and take away the means of livelihood of the affected people should also be banned on common international rivers. No people should ever have to live with the curse of the dams and barrages like the Farakka (and the proposed Tipaimukh Dam) that kills people!


Dr Habib Siddiqui has authored nine books. His book: “Democracy, Politics and Terrorism - America’s Quest for Security in the Age of Insecurity” is available at Article also posted on Islamicity

Thursday, June 23, 2011

France offers Ethiopia $590 mln for power, water projects | Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - France has signed a $590 million agreement with Ethiopia to boost water and energy projects, as well as for the construction of electricity transmission lines with Kenya, its embassy in Addis Ababa said.

The loan and grant deal will enable the French Development Agency (ADF) to develop water and sanitation schemes and support the management of geothermal and windmill projects, it said in a statement.

"In the same area, an important support is provided for the construction of Ethio-Kenyan electricity interconnection," the embassy said.

Ethiopia signed a 220 million euro deal with French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet in 2008 for the construction of a 120 MW wind farm in the northern Tigray region as part of efforts to diversify its energy sources.

Addis Ababa has also started work on building a 5,250 MW dam along its share of the Nile river at the cost of $4.78 billion. The project will be the continent's largest and is expected to be completed in five to 10 years time.

The Horn of Africa nation aims to produce 15,000 MW of power within 10 years as part of a plan to spend $12 billion over 25 years to overcome chronic power shortages and export to other energy-starved African countries.

The deal with France was signed on Wednesday by Ethiopia's Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed and French ambassador Jean-

Sunday, June 5, 2011

For Egypt, China is threatening the Nile -

By buying land in Sudan and Ethiopia to raise grain, China is threatening to appropriate Egypt's water source.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (left) meets with head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in Cairo, Egypt , May 3, 2011. By buying up agricultural land in Sudan and Ethiopia, China is threatening to divert the Nile's waters.

Cai Yang, Pool/AP/File


The New York Times rarely published general equilibrium pieces but today Lester Brown has published one. His logic chain is the following; importing Asian nations such as South Korea andChina seek grain from exporting nations in Africa. They are signing mutually beneficial deals with nations such as the Sudan, Ethiopia, the Congo and Zambia. The Asian nations are buying land with dedicated agricultural output to be shipped to the Asian nations. Adam Smith would like this but Lester Brown does not.

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Matthew Kahn

He says; "These land grabs shrink the food supply in famine-prone African nations and anger local farmers, who see their governments selling their ancestral lands to foreigners. They also pose a grave threat to Africa’s newest democracy: Egypt."


"Egypt is a nation of bread eaters. Its citizens consume 18 million tons of wheat annually, more than half of which comes from abroad. Egypt is now the world’s leading wheat importer, and subsidized bread — for which the government doles out approximately $2 billion per year — is seen as an entitlement by the 60 percent or so of Egyptian families who depend on it.

As Egypt tries to fashion a functioning democracy afterPresident Hosni Mubarak’s departure, land grabs to the south are threatening its ability to put bread on the table because all of Egypt’s grain is either imported or produced with water from the Nile River, which flows north through Ethiopia and Sudan before reaching Egypt. (Since rainfall in Egypt is negligible to nonexistent, its agriculture is totally dependent on the Nile.)

Unfortunately for Egypt, two of the favorite targets for land acquisitions are Ethiopia and Sudan, which together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin. Today’s demands for water are such that there is little left of the river when it eventually empties into the Mediterranean."

SO, there is a piece of interesting economics here. The Nile is a "Regional Public Good" and thus a tragedy of the commons issue arises. Brown is arguing that Egypt will lose twice from nearby nations exporting their production to other nations such as China.

1. Due to general equilibrium effects, the people of Egypt will pay higher prices for Bread as grain prices will rise.

2. Since the Nile is a regional water way and neither Ethiopia or the Sudan has any incentive to recognize that Egypt suffers when water is extracted from the river, international trade exacerbates an existing regional externality issue.

The Coase Theorem tells us that if Ethiopia and the Sudan have the property rights to this river then Egypt will need to pay them to allow more water to flow to Egypt.

Lester Brown's point is that the original regional water deal is being undermined by this new international trade:

"The Nile Waters Agreement, which Egypt and Sudan signed in 1959, gave Egypt 75 percent of the river’s flow, 25 percent to Sudan and none to Ethiopia. This situation is changing abruptly as wealthy foreign governments and international agribusinesses snatch up large swaths of arable land along the Upper Nile. While these deals are typically described as land acquisitions, they are also, in effect, water acquisitions."

So, how can regional rivers be allocated fairly and efficiently? Europe has faced this challenge with the Danube. Economists have thought about the challenge of international rivers and how they are shared by neighbors. Hilary Sigman has written the best paper and here it is.

How does Lester Brown want to resolve this regional challenge? Here I disagree with him;

"Finally, for the sake of peace and future development cooperation, the nations of the Nile River Basin should come together to ban land grabs by foreign governments and agribusiness firms."

This is not smart. This is a pretty dumb quote from an interesting man. The NY Times should think twice before it publishes an OP-ED with suggestions to suspend international trade. This is a dangerous precedent. Does the NY Times support ending international migration? Does it support ending international capital flows and Foreign Direct Investment?

There are gains to trade between China and African nations. I agree that there are externalities associated with this trade. Such a trade is still "good" if the gains to trade between China and its African exporting partners exceed the losses imposed on downstream areas such as Egypt. Brown is assuming this is the case without offering any evidence and this is a dangerous precedent.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Politics |Ethiopia asked to pull militia out of Kenya-Daily Nation

Ethiopia asked to pull militia out of Kenya

Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti led a  a high-powered Kenyan delegation to Ethiopia where they asked the country to pull out 2,500 militias who invaded Kenyan territory last month June 2, 2011. FILE

Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti led a a high-powered Kenyan delegation to Ethiopia where they asked the country to pull out 2,500 militias who invaded Kenyan territory last month June 2, 2011. FILE

By ARGAW ASHINE, NATION Correspondent in Addis Ababa

Posted Thursday, June 2 2011 at 20:47

Ethiopia was Thursday asked to pull out 2,500 militias who invaded Kenyan territory last month.

At a ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa Thursday, a high-powered Kenyan delegation took exception to the deteriorating border security and asked for better cooperation to prevent bloodshed.

The delegation composed of eight ministers and other senior officials was led by Internal Security Minister and acting Foreign minister George Saitoti.

The Defence ministers of both countries were asked to take back to Ethiopia the militiamen who killed more than 20 Kenyans.
This should be done by the military or through negotiations.

Ethiopian Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa declined to comment on the planned action, but said a security team was working on a smooth way of conducting the operation.

Kenyan Lands Minister James Orengo said both countries must give the border issue great attention.

“Failing to stop such killings on both sides is ignoring the core value of human rights,” Mr Orengo said.

The ministerial meeting’s co-chairperson, Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said the recent border conflict was unfortunate and that his country would act to avoid insecurity along the joint border.

He also acknowledged a recent border security arrangement proposed by a joint border commission, which met in Nairobi on May 27.

The new agreement proposes more security measures, including joint border patrols, and starting development projects for local communities.

The two countries signed a border security agreement seven years ago, but the implementation was weak due to “unexplained reasons”.

At yesterday’s meeting, Kenya also sought a new water sharing “framework agreement” with Ethiopia, mainly on Omo River.

The team sought the establishment of a technical committee to study the impact of an Ethiopian dam project on Kenya.

Ethiopia plans to build the Gibe III Dam, which is expected to generate 1870 MW of power on Omo River.

It is feared that this could have a negative effect on Kenyans living around Lake Turkana.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blue Nile Falls: Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

YouTube - Blue Nile Falls: Bahir Dar, Ethiopia: ""

Ethiopia: The Enemy Of My Enemy Is An Opportunity

June 2, 2011: Ethiopia and Uganda have decided to go ahead and begin building, this year, four new dams on the Nile River, on the Blue Nile and White Nile, respectively. The dams continue to cause controversy downstream, particularly in Egypt. In mid-May Ethiopia offered a concession to Egypt. Water retained for its Renaissance Dam project (which is near the Sudan border) will not be used for irrigation, but to generate hydro-electric power. Egypt has accused Ethiopia of planning to use the water for irrigation. In hydro-electric production, the water will flow, while irrigation water stays where it is used. The Renaissance Dam will be completed in 2018.

May 28, 2011: The Ethiopian Army has deployed a division to help find kidnapped World Food Program (WFP) workers that the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) claimed it had taken on May 26. The Ethiopian forces are supported by helicopters and helicopter gunships. The ONLF claimed that it had contacted UN representatives and was protecting the WFP workers. The ONLF said it would hand the workers over to a UN agency.

May 26, 2011: The ONLF claimed it had found two WFP workers who were missing after someone ambushed their convoy inside Ethiopia but near the Somalia-Ethiopia border region. The two workers have apparently been found inside Ethiopia. The ONLF claims Ethiopia illegally occupies the predominantly ethnic Somali Ogaden region. The ONLF has accused the Ethiopian government of ambushing the convoy, and the Ethiopian government has returned the favor. The OLF accusation was particularly interesting. The ONLF said the WFP workers were being held in a prison in Ethiopia. The government called that claim an absolute lie. The government did say that a special national police unit had ambushed an ONLF group near the town of Galalshe and killed around 70 ONLF rebels. The police unit suffered three dead in action. It is no secret that the ONLF moves rather freely back and forth across the Somali border. The desert terrain is hard to police.

May 22, 2011: Eritrea is encouraging anti-Southern Sudan rebel forces on behalf of Sudan’s national government (Northern Sudan). The goal isn’t simply to destabilize Southern Sudan. The current Eritrean government makes the argument that it does not need to have elections since it is Africa’s newest state. That argument goes out the window this summer when Southern Sudan becomes independent. Yes, that’s a self-serving propaganda twist by Ethiopia, and these stories have begun circulating just as reports break of heavy fighting between Northern and Southern Sudan in the Abyei region. But there are reasons to give Ethiopia’s claim a degree of credence. Eritrea has served as a collecting point, training base, and weapons depot for a number of guerrilla groups around the world. Given the northern threat, Southern Sudan will likely seek an alliance with Ethiopia. It already had de facto alliances with Uganda and Kenya. From the Eritrean perspective, the friend of my enemy (Ethiopia), is my enemy.

May 19, 2011: The World Food Program announced it intends to restart aid deliveries in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. The deliveries were halted after two aid workers went missing after an attack on their aid convoy on May 13.

May 18, 2011: Ethiopia and Kenya continue to coordinate operations to stop tribal trouble on their mutual border. Kenyan military and police forces are engaging Merille tribal raiders who the Kenyan government claims have killed 40 people in recent attacks. The Merille claim territory on both sides of the Ethiopia-Kenya border. The Kenyan government wants to send some 2,500 Merille people back into Ethiopia.

May 16, 2011: Djibouti announced that it will definitely provide a battalion of troops for peacekeeping duty with the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM). Djibouti’s willingness to participate in AMISOM has angered Somali Islamist militants. Eritrea is not pleased with Djibouti’s decision since the Somali Islamist Al Shabaab group is regarded as an Eritrean ally.

May 15, 2011: The ONLF claimed that the Ethiopian government had killed over 100 civilians in a series of attacks in the Ogaden region. One of the civilians killed, according to the ONLF, was a UN aid worker. The ONLF also claimed the government kidnapped an aid worker.

May 12, 2011: The entire Horn of Africa is facing yet another food shortage due to drought. The rising price of imported food is making the situation more dangerous for the starving, and for governments in the region. The Ethiopian government is concerned that food shortages will provoke popular protests and opposition parties will use the protests to confront the government. It’s why they call them bread riots. Food prices jumped 32 percent in Ethiopia during the month of April 2011.

May 11, 2011: NATO naval forces in the Indian Ocean boarded a cargo ship carrying weapons from North Korea to Eritrea. The shipment violates UN sanctions on Eritrea. A UN source reported the cargo vessel carried rockets, surface to air missiles, and explosives, but did not provide further details on the weapons. Outlaw to outlaw gun-running and commerce continues to be a problem for UN sanctions advocates. This shipment was stopped, in part because international naval forces are in the region to combat Somali piracy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yemen tribal fighters seize government buildings

YouTube - Yemen tribal fighters seize government buildings: ""

Death Dam Protest in Turkey destroyng the nature and villages 2

Death Dams in Southern Africa, India, and Austrailia

Fiker Addis Nekatibeb - Nama

Ethiopian Music - Fiker Addis Nekatibeb - Nama: ""

China's backing for Ethiopia dam riles activists - World Watch - CBS News

It's a story that truly spans the globe: Activists from all over the world, including San Francisco, are trying to stop the construction of a dam in Ethiopia financed by a Chinese bank.

The Gibe 3 Dam is in the early phases of construction on Ethiopia's powerful Omo River, using $500 million dollars in equipment funded by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). The hydroelectric dam, one of the largest construction projects in Ethiopia's history, would regulate the flow of water along the Omo River as it courses through Ethiopia and into Kenya's massive Lake Turkhana -- a freshwater oasis in the heart of the desert.

The project has been mired in controversy since it was just a blueprint. The World Bank and the European Investment Bank financed smaller hydroelectric projects on the Omo River, but dropped consideration of the Gibe 3 Dam after viewing the environmental impact report commissioned by the Ethiopian government. Activists say the banks were scared away by the Ethiopian government's lack of transparency regarding construction plans and the fact that the Gibe 3 will have a profound ecological impact on the region's fragile ecosystem, from Ethiopia into Kenya.

A November 2010 hydrology report by the African Development Bank (pdf) (AfDB) noted that the Omo River is responsible for 90 percent of the water leading into Lake Turkhana. A major dam blocking the river would drain most of the lake, depriving 300,000 Kenyans of the water needed for agriculture, cattle herding and fishing. And that's just the first concern: The activists' extended list of fears about the dam seems as long as the Omo River itself.

Any changes to the Omo River's natural flood pattern could affect 70 percent of the "more important" species living around Lake Turkhana, according to the AfDB report. Also, in the long term, independent Ethiopian engineers have questioned the wisdom of building such a large dam in a region with a history of strong earthquakes.

That's not all. The area that will be flooded by the dam is home to low-level farmlands used by 300,000 Ethiopians. Food resources are already so scarce in the drought-hit border region between Kenya and Ethiopia that two of the main ethnic groups living there have resorted to violence in their bid for more land and water. In May, 70 ethnic Turkhana people from Kenya were killed when they attempted to buy food across the border in Ethiopia.

Landlocked Ethiopia is starved for electricity and also hopes to boost its revenue by exporting hydroelectricity. One section of the Kenyan government has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding to buy hydropower from the Gibe 3 dam. In a fax to CBS, the ICBC noted "relevant nations expressed interest in buying electricity from Ethiopia."

However, Friends of Lake Turkhana, an activist group battling the dam, is taking the Kenyan government to court to fight the agreement to buy electricity without conducting a full environmental impact assessment on the dam. Now that the ICBC bank in China is offering financial support for the dam, the Kenyan opponents to the dam are widening their campaign to stop construction of the Gibe 3.

The ICBC Bank has long been silent on its reasons for supporting controversial Gibe 3 Dam, until now. Activists from Kenya and International Rivers flew to Beijing to plea their case to the ICBC, but their meeting requests were ignored. So, I contacted ICBC Bank to ask about the widespread concerns regarding ecological and safety risks of building the GIBE 3 Dam. Days later, the unsigned letter from ICBC faxed to CBS News insisted, "credit and loan for all projects conforms to environmental requirements."

Further, the bank argues that other, smaller hydro projects on the Omo River, Gibe 1 and Gibe 2, were supported by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions. The fax did not answer CBS News' question as to why the ICBC continues to support the Gibe 3 project when other financial institutions have stepped away.

The ICBC's annual general meeting begins Tuesday in Beijing and Hong Kong.

"Based on the serious findings of the [African Development Bank] hydrological impact report, which has now been published, ICBC should reconsider their funding of the Gibe 3 Dam," Peter Bosshard, Policy Director at International Rivers tells CBS News.

The Chinese government is pressuring the country's state-owned banks to invest in more projects outside of China. As Chinese banks extend their interests into international territory, activists from all over the world will likely find themselves spending more time in Beijing.