23 April 2014

Ethiopia set up an organization and web presence in response to Nile controversy

I totally missed this, but Ethiopia set up an organization and webpages to respond to the recent controversy surrounding development and water rights in the Nile River basin called the Ethiopian International Professional Support for AbayI was told today that an official statement (9 pages in length) was released in response to the IRN article released a few weeks ago. IRN responded back, asking why the debate of dams on the Nile is out of bounds. I just took a look at that piece and then wanted to know more about the organization and what is going on with accusations flying.

This does not appear to be the Ethiopian government. However, if the Ethiopian government did not like that some people put up a site claiming to be the Ethiopian voice on the Nile River, they would do something about it. Who is behind the site and organization?

In fact, the page does not identify who is behind the organization, but limits membership to Ethiopians only - either in citizenship or birthright. I personally think names should be attached to the claims. Maybe it is the American in me, but I don't like exclusive collectives (membership only things). How can I engage anonymous professionals writing in support of Ethiopia's position on the Nile? I had this frustration when a report was generated  in 2012 about the Renaissance Dam from two anonymous scientists. Much of the data contained was solid - taken from reports and census generated in Ethiopia. This served as a great baseline document. There was also a bunch of erroneous figures and bias statements in the work. Being someone who is researching the dam, I would love to have dialogue with other researchers and "gut-check" my own findings and work.

I would prefer Ethiopia step forward to engage in the global dialogue. Ethiopia should be counted as a country that has a voice. The same with Ethiopian researchers and professionals - step forward and find your public voice! Challenge on your own ground and with confidence. People may rip you to shreds in the media or wherever the conversation erupts, but in the end at least what you have to say is said for all to hear with qualification. 

With my defense looming, I don't have time to go through all of this in depth now, but I am interested to read more in the coming weeks.