Ethiopia’s Awash washed up?

Lack of finance has stalled the US$120 million Kesem, Kebena and Tendaho dams project in the Awash Valley Development in Ethiopia. Chief Engineer for the Ministry of Water Resources, Dragutin Jovanovic has warned that the government will abandon the scheme if funds are not forthcoming.

A study on the potential of the Awash valley by Jovanovic, revealed that building a total of 15 storage dams would provide 350-400,000 ha of irrigated soil and vastly increase Ethiopia’s agricultural productivity.

The Awash Valley Development also includes agricultural produce processing factories to help enhance food security in the region. Estimating the total cost to be about US$3 billion, Jovanovic, told World Water: “If the project is realised, it may diminish the risk of disastrous famine in exceptionally dry years.”

The proposed dams have a combined capacity of 2000 million m3 with Tendaho dwarfing Kesem-Kebena at 1500 million m3. In a rush to reach completion, the government had hoped to be able to irrigate over 90,000ha of land by June 2006.

Already under way is the design and construction of the Koga Irrigation and Watershed Management Project near Merawi-Meko. Valued at approximately US$50 million, the project is being funded mostly by the African Development Bank with some government input. UK design contractors Mott MacDonald expect completion by 2009.

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