World Bank under fire for power line

2012-07-12 17:30

Washington - Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged the World Bank to withhold support for a power line that would take electricity from Ethiopia to Kenya, citing environmental and human rights concerns.

On the eve of a World Bank discussion that could give the project the green light, the advocacy group urged newly installed bank president Jim Yong Kim to hold fire.

"The World Bank needs to rigorously apply its social and environmental safeguards," a letter to Kim stated.

"Human Rights Watch has very serious concerns that the World Bank has failed to do so as the project currently stands."

The roughly 1 000km transmission line is part of a nearly $1.3bn project to link energy-producing Ethiopia with Kenya - where as many as 80% of the population is without power.

It is also part of a broader plan to link the electricity grids of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, spurring growth and saving East African nations around $1bna year in energy costs.

But HRW said the project also includes pitfalls for the environment and local residents, some of whom will be displaced.

HRW said the dam that will be the likely source of the power in Ethiopia - which is not funded by the bank - could cause serious environmental damage to Lake Turkana, a Unesco world heritage site.

HRW said the dam project has also resulted in a swathe of "abusive involuntary resettlement" of local groups.

While the World Bank says that more than 5 000 people will be directly affected by the power project, it stresses the dam project is not directly linked and energy will come from a large number of existing and future power plants in Ethiopia.

Human Rights Watch has been vocal in its criticism of the Ethiopian government for its policy of "villagisation", which it claims has resulted in a wave of forced relocations.

  • Cuteandbronzed - 2012-07-12 18:38

    How dare they try to take energy from Africa after all they have done urgggg

  • Gragedavid - 2012-07-12 21:48

    Does Human Rights Watch is saying I will develop the area? or Human Rights Watch are informing us that the region poverty and people backwardness is grace for the world? I believe the project is targeted to change the life of the poor people and I hope The World Bank understand it in the correct way. The World Bank is developmental Institution and doesn't have ear to hear Human Right watches which is very well known political institution. I hate the people who lead HRW as they lack rationality. They have to know that Ethiopia is the world third fast growing nation and can do any project which will change the life of it's people like this Gilegel GibIII project, without the assistance of western.

      beryihun.degu - 2012-07-13 17:08

      The goal of HRW is clear; keeping African countries always poor. If they are really concerned about our environment, why don’t they focus on the rich western countries that are not willing to adhere to international commitments? Which one is harmful to African poor farmers; dams which generate renewable energy and increase livelihood opportunities and ensure overall environmental sustainability or ever increasing carbon emission by rich western countries which leads to global warming and desertification? I think HRW very well knows that carbon emission which is leading to ozone layer depletion has a detrimental effect on agriculture, the basic source livelihood for African poor? Let Africans decide by themselves. The time for “The White Man’s Burden” mentality has passed long ago.

  • gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-07-13 17:41

    Go right ahead. The west is tired of feeding a bottomless black hole. Build your own infra structure. Don't waste any time. Show us all.

  • dabiyen - 2012-07-16 14:50

    I feel sorry for those ‘researchers’ advocates in the name of human right. Evan Jessica (you human right ‘Researcher’) , now I know you for sure that you are struggling to see poor Africans, so that you can enjoy of them as a tourism. We want you to ask a very single question, even though, for sure you are not going to answer. You are giving us your false heart. You are enjoying your meal three or four times a day, but we africans are not. those people, that you are struglling have nothing to put on, have nothing to live in, but you are opening your mouth when your stomach is full. so, what comes first. Is it bread or tour (seeing those people naked)? You may shout again in future, but we Ethiopians and Kenyans are not goin to stop our way to feed our people. Go go Kenya and Ethiopia!!!

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