14 April 2016

Feature Article on Renaissance Dam as Countdown Continues

A recent feature article in Science Magazine highlights the increased dialogue surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as the project nears completion for initial filling in 2017. The article is a collection of voices from the international community who have either visited, studied, or have other knowledge of the dam project as things stand to date.

I recently spoke with a colleague who visited the dam a few months ago and tells me that all the timber is being harvested, the area up to the fill-line is being denuded of the great forest. This forest included hardwoods, well over hundred year old Baobab trees, and habitat for teems of birdlife, scores of insects, and who knows what else. I still wonder about the big cats I heard fighting at night close to the river and reports from dam workers about lions and striped cats in the surrounding hills. One surveyer was rumored to have been carried off by a lion without a trace.

When I received this news of transformed landscape I was double disappointed that no team of scientists made a successful effort to get in the dam site prior. I still wonder about the biodiversity and undocumented species that possibly inhabited the valley, certainly the people living there are culturally distinctive. Even the Gumuz communities in the Valley had traditions, dialects, and undocumented other aspects unlike the Gumuz living upstream or at a distance from the Valley and its related resources. And I also wonder about the locals - I hear that people are still living in the villages, surrounded by all this transformation, waiting for the day when they too will be transformed, transported to another environment and a new way of life.

Power Play on the Nile by JCVeilleux