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Damming Abbay: An Eastern Nile Shift? An Upstream Perspective

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Akewak Gobosho (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Akewak Gobosho, Hermen Smit, Peiter Vander Zaag

Eastern Nile Tecnical Regional Office1, UNESCO-IHE2



Keyword(s): Sub-theme 4: Infrastructure development,
Abstract

Abstract For decades Ethiopia's rulers have attempted to utilize Abbay River that served in history as a national lament and the utilization of which has been on inequitable terms. The latter produced resistance from the upstream countries to change the status quo. After more than half a century of attempt to dam Abbay and exactly a decade and half of negotiating on integrated river basin development and new legal framework agreement, a vivid turn of events took place in the Nile and Eastern Nile, culminating in the signature of Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA by seven Nile countries) and a witnessing expansion of unilateral development of dams over Blue Nile. The Damming of Abbay appears to have evolved through time as the process is choreographed by the discourse that has been trying to justify the redistribution of costs and benefits and material transformation of the river which implicate a redistribution of water flow. Thus, it is the purpose of this study to analyze the historical process of dam development over Ethiopian part of the Nile and how Damming Abbay unfolded. To this end, the study uses a triangular conceptual framework of discourse, material transformation, and transformation of value flows with a technography as its methodology. For this purpose qualitative and quantitative data gathered through semi structured interview during the field work, public documents print and electronic media, published and unpublished works are used. The study presents the historical process that led to today's dam boom over Abbay; and examines the process of dam development that has been in progress in Ethiopia since 1950s. In order to understand how Ethiopian part of Nile was developed over time and how the idea of damming Abbay/Blue Nile in particular has changed, the research investigates for three periods, three cases through three interconnected elements of construction of hydraulic infrastructure: 1 normative frame for justification of construction of large infrastructure 2. Transformation of material flows, 3. Transformation of value flows. It is argued in the study that Dam development on the Abbay/ Blue Nile River cannot be understood by studying it in a fragmented way as part of a wider process of river basin development. Accordingly, the key premise of the thesis is that only when we regard discourse, material transformation, and transformation of value flows as three interrelated elements of the same process of dam development can we understand how the construction of dams reconfigures flows of money (value) and political power along the Abbay. Key Words: GERD, Discourses, Dam Development, Material and value transformation, Eastern Nile shift, Ethiopia, Hydropower development, USBR,

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