In Summary

  • On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said Lake Turkana, which receives its water from the Omo River, is slowly drying up.

  • Based on publicly available data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the group said, Lake Turkana’s water levels have dropped by approximately 1.5 metres since January 2015.

Ethiopia is denying claims that it forced through its controversial Gibe Dams Project without consulting its neighbour Kenya.

In a statement on Friday, Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Dina Mufti said his country has always discussed the matter with Nairobi and they even have a team of officials from both sides that deals with possible environmental problems from the project.

“This is a baseless allegations concocted against the Gibe project that the Ethiopian government is undertaking for only generation of hydropower. Ethiopia and Kenya have Joint mechanisms called Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) and Joint Border," he said.

IMPACT

"Administrators/ Commissioners Commission (JBC), which both are active in resolving any disputes that arise between trans-boundary communities over scarce resources as well as problems that may arise as a result of cattle rustling along the common border.”

“The two countries have been in regular consultations regarding the Gibe project from its inception and have been determined to resolve any concern through cooperation.

"It is under the above mentioned mechanisms that the two countries have been working together to protect the common natural resource of Lake Turkana,” he said.

Addis Ababa, which has been building dams along the Omo River, has recently come under fire from rights and environmental groups, which accuse the country of forcing through the projects without considering their environmental impact.

LAKE DRYING UP

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Lake Turkana, which receives its water from the Omo River, is slowly drying up.

Based on publicly available data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the group said, Lake Turkana’s water levels have dropped by approximately 1.5 metres since January 2015, and further reduction is likely without urgent efforts to mitigate the impact of Ethiopia’s actions.

Human Rights Watch said it investigated the impact based on satellite imagery that shows that the drop is already affecting the shoreline of the lake, which has receded by as much as 1.7 kilometres in Ferguson Gulf since November 2014.

The gulf is a critical fish breeding area, and a key fishing ground for the indigenous Turkana people.

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