The Omo Watershed

NWNL offers this list as a helpful resource,
but does not necessarily endorse the viewpoints of the videos below.

Community Voices of Lake Turkana by International Rivers, 2015 (5:52).

NWNL Comment: This video presents the concerns and comments of the people living along Lake Turkana in their own words. These people have not been consulted on hydropower and irrigation developments upstream on the Omo River in Ethiopia. The legally required Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), prepared by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, was released three years after construction of the Gibe III dam began, and does not consider downstream effects of the dam, the commercial plantations, nor of the planned Gibe IV and V dams.

The Lake Turkana community fears ecological collapse of the lake and fisheries where resources are already scarce. International Rivers reports that these developments could leave thousands without water and provoke tribal conflict. A summary of findings and recommendations, including the opinions of some of those who will be most directly affected, can be found in IR’s report, Come and Count Our Bones.

A Cascade of Development on the Omo River by International Rivers, with photos by Alison M. Jones, 2014 (11:19).

NWNL Comment: This film explains the looming impacts of water levels reduced by 70% for the next 3 years due to dams in Ethiopia’s Omo River and its terminus, Kenya’s Lake Turkana. The Gibe hydro-dams upstream, and new commercial agricultural plantations watered by those dams, threaten the livelihoods of local indigenous tribes and their ecosystems. This film discusses how reduced water flows and climate change could be mitigated to protect the sustainability of the Omo River, fish-filled Lake Turkana, and 6000-year old cultures in this Cradle of Humankind.

For further NWNL commentary, explanation and a relevant Omo Stakeholder Interview of Halewijn Scheuerman, go to the NWNL Omo “Voices of the River” page.

The Vanishing Lake by Jessica Hatcher and Mark Hofer, 2014 (3:42).

NWNL Comment: Lake Turkana in Kenya is the world’s largest desert lake. 300,000 indigenous people and a unique and delicate ecosystem depend on the lake, which receives 90% of its water water from the Omo River. Ethiopia, which borders Kenya, is building the Gibe III Dam on the Omo for Africa’s largest hydro-electric power project. This could lead to ecological collapse of the lake, deprive the communities around Lake Turkana of their livlihood, and jeopardize the region’s fragile peace.

When the Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts by Yale Environment 360 (with Media Storm and Evan Abramson), 2011 (16:00).

Description by Environment 360: 16-minute video tells the story of this conflict and of the increasingly dire drought conditions facing parts of East Africa. To report this video, Evan Abramson, a 32-year-old photographer and videographer, spent two months in the region early this year, living among the herding communities. He returned with a tale that many climate scientists say will be increasingly common in the 21st century and beyond – how worsening drought in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere will pit group against group, nation against nation.

NWNL Comment: In Kenya and Ethiopia’s Omo River Basin, worsening droughts and a temperature increase of 2 degrees since 1960 have pitted pastoralist tribes from Ethiopia and Kenya against each other – representing “some of the world’s first climate-change conflicts.” In this climate-change hotspot – with its deforestation, land degradation, population pressures, competition for pastureland and farmland, and struggles over access to water – there is no peace. And now, in this region where the river connected tribes to their ancestors, the Ethiopian government is building a cascade of dams that will hold back the waters and prevent the river’s annual flood cycles, upon which more than 200,000 tribesmen in Ethiopia and 300,000 in Kenya depend for cultivation, grazing, and fishing. Given no long-term regional development nor global efforts to reduce climate change, this film asks whether humanitarian efforts that do are just saving peoples’ lives today so they can die tomorrow.

Resisting Gibe 3 Dam: Voices from Lake Turkana by International Rivers, June 21, 2010 (2:28).

International Rivers Description: In March 2010, International Rivers Africa program director Terri Hathaway visited the communities of Lake Turkana (Kenya) and spoke to those who would be affected by the massive Gibe 3 Dam upstream in Ethiopia. This is their story.

NWNL Comment: Over the chanting of Kenyan children and mothers, this film states, “When there is enough food, war stops,” and “When there’s not enough fish, fathers can’t pay school fees.” If built, the hydro-dams proposed for the Gibe River tributary of Ethiopia’s Omo River will severely impact the water levels of the Omo’s terminus, Lake Turkana – the world’s largest desert lake. To the 300,000 pastoralists who depend on the lake, “The lake is my mother and my father, when the lake is gone who will be my mother and father?”

Water for Turkana by Community Missionary of St. Paul The Apostles, near Lodwar, 2010 (7:18).

NWNL Comment: Addressing the priority needs for the local people, the diocese has helped with the construction of 48 earthen dams where there is heavy clay content, 96 rock dams, 70 wells and many pits and channels. This allows rainwater collection and harvesting. When dams are constructed it’s easy to drill wells and put in hand pumps. The diocese has created water committees with maintenance training to insure the future of this infrastructure.

Omo River Trip – Mark Angelo by Rivers Institute, 2010 (2:46).

Description by Rivers Institute: The Omo river is a vital part of life for many tribes living along its winding banks and now a hydroelectric project threatens the flood-retreat agricultural lifestyle of these people. Mark Angelo (Chair of Rivers Institute) takes a closer look at the Karo tribe and their future.

NWNL Comment: This succinctly and accurately documents the effects of the proposed upstream cascade of hydro-dams on the Omo’s tributary, the Gibe River. NWNL has visited and witnessed the Karo people’s sustainable flood-recession agriculture in dry season and flood season, and joins them in concerns about future impacts of the dams on their lifestyle.

Rain water harvesting in Kenya – Turkana People Part 1 by UN’s World Food Programme, 2009 (6:51).

Description by WFP: Harvest the Rain Part 1 of a video produced in Kenya for WFP about the Turkana people growing crops using rain water harvesting techniques. WFP is the United Nations World Food Programme. Turkana people are traditionally nomadic, but recently surrounding wars have reduced their grazing territory, forcing some people to settle and grow crops. Also, parts of families settle near towns so their children can attend school.

NWNL Comment: This video documents Kenya’s Turkana people, traditionally nomadic, tending livestock and gathering food by fishing in Lake Turkana, terminus of the Omo River. But recently their grazing territory has been reduced by wars, over-grazing and droughts, forcing many to settle and grow crops. But their water resources are minimal during droughts, especially since lake levels are being reduced due to water extraction upstream in Ethiopia.