Ethiopia faces pressure to halt construction of Nile dam

International and regional organizations have stepped up pressure on the Ethiopian government to suspend construction of a new dam on the Nile River, which they say will negatively impact the local environment.

The Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, however, has said the dam–to be used solely for electricity generation–would not compromise Egypt’s traditional share of Nile water.

Non-governmental organizations, meanwhile, have employed a number of tactics aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Addis Ababa to halt the dam's construction.

In August, the European Investment Bank suddenly pulled funding from the project, and in June, activists staged demonstrations in front of the Italian Foreign Ministry after Addis Ababa approached Rome for funding.

Environmentalist groups in Kenya also protested construction of the dam, which they say is likely to affect water levels in Turkana Lake, the main source of water for some 300,000 Kenyans.

One of the organizations leading the fight against the project is Survival International, the stated mission of which is to assist tribal peoples defend their land and livelihoods.

The organization is gathering signatures for a petition urging Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to halt construction of the dam. The petition, which highlights alleged negative environmental impacts associated with the project, has so far been signed by more than 12,000 people.

The organization has also sent a detailed report of its environmental findings to the African Development Bank, a potential donor to the project.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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