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Impacts of the hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles interbasin water transfer on downstream rural livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia)

(2019) JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY. 569. p.436-448
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Abstract
Despite public awareness of unintended impacts (1980s) and well-developed international standards (2000s), downstream impacts of large hydropower projects still very often are not properly assessed. Impacts of (hydropower-regulated) interbasin water transfers (IBWTs) are considered self-evidently positive, although they can have far-reaching consequences for hydrogeomorphological systems and consequently river-dependent communities. In this study, the downstream direct and indirect impacts of the Ethiopian hydropower-regulated Tana-Beles IBWT are evaluated in an interdisciplinary way. The components of the framework of rural livelihoods are considered and changing contexts, resources' availabilities and livelihood strategies are analysed. Mixed methods are applied, combining hydrogeomorphological field observations, GIS analyses, scientific literature, policy documents, and semi-structured interviews with local people and local to federal authorities. Results show that the IBWT drastically increased the Beles river's discharge (with an average release of + 92 m(3) s(-1 )at the outlet; *2 in rainy season and *12 in dry season 100km downstream of the water release) and introduced dangerous situations for local communities (over 250 people drowned in the river). River bank erosion resulted in the uncompensated loss of farmland (163 ha) and the establishment of large-scale commercial farms increased the pressure on land and led to the impoverishment of displaced communities (4310 households). The project was implemented top-down, without any transparency, benefit sharing or compensation for external costs. This stresses the importance of downstream interdisciplinary impact assessments and highlights the need for decent in-depth ex post-analyses of hydropower projects. Environmental impact assessments should be taken seriously and cannot be considered a formality. In Ethiopia and in many developing countries, the hydropower industry is booming. Although dams and IBWTs can be the best solution for water-related problems in specific contexts, national development goals (such as the expansion of the electricity network) should not be at the expense of rural livelihoods.
Keywords
Hydroelectricity, clear water effect, river pattern adjustments, commercial farms, development induced displacement and resettlement, livelihood strategies, LAKE TANA, DAMS, BASIN, NILE

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Annys, Sofie et al. “Impacts of the Hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles Interbasin Water Transfer on Downstream Rural Livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia).” JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY 569 (2019): 436–448. Print.
APA
Annys, S., Adgo, E., Ghebreyohannes, T., Van Passel, S., Dessein, J., & Nyssen, J. (2019). Impacts of the hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles interbasin water transfer on downstream rural livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia). JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, 569, 436–448.
Chicago author-date
Annys, Sofie, Enyew Adgo, Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes, Steven Van Passel, Joost Dessein, and Jan Nyssen. 2019. “Impacts of the Hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles Interbasin Water Transfer on Downstream Rural Livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia).” Journal of Hydrology 569: 436–448.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Annys, Sofie, Enyew Adgo, Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes, Steven Van Passel, Joost Dessein, and Jan Nyssen. 2019. “Impacts of the Hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles Interbasin Water Transfer on Downstream Rural Livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia).” Journal of Hydrology 569: 436–448.
Vancouver
1.
Annys S, Adgo E, Ghebreyohannes T, Van Passel S, Dessein J, Nyssen J. Impacts of the hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles interbasin water transfer on downstream rural livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia). JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY. 2019;569:436–48.
IEEE
[1]
S. Annys, E. Adgo, T. Ghebreyohannes, S. Van Passel, J. Dessein, and J. Nyssen, “Impacts of the hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles interbasin water transfer on downstream rural livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia),” JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, vol. 569, pp. 436–448, 2019.
@article{8588428,
  abstract     = {Despite public awareness of unintended impacts (1980s) and well-developed international standards (2000s), downstream impacts of large hydropower projects still very often are not properly assessed. Impacts of (hydropower-regulated) interbasin water transfers (IBWTs) are considered self-evidently positive, although they can have far-reaching consequences for hydrogeomorphological systems and consequently river-dependent communities. In this study, the downstream direct and indirect impacts of the Ethiopian hydropower-regulated Tana-Beles IBWT are evaluated in an interdisciplinary way. The components of the framework of rural livelihoods are considered and changing contexts, resources' availabilities and livelihood strategies are analysed. Mixed methods are applied, combining hydrogeomorphological field observations, GIS analyses, scientific literature, policy documents, and semi-structured interviews with local people and local to federal authorities. Results show that the IBWT drastically increased the Beles river's discharge (with an average release of + 92 m(3) s(-1 )at the outlet; *2 in rainy season and *12 in dry season 100km downstream of the water release) and introduced dangerous situations for local communities (over 250 people drowned in the river). River bank erosion resulted in the uncompensated loss of farmland (163 ha) and the establishment of large-scale commercial farms increased the pressure on land and led to the impoverishment of displaced communities (4310 households). The project was implemented top-down, without any transparency, benefit sharing or compensation for external costs. This stresses the importance of downstream interdisciplinary impact assessments and highlights the need for decent in-depth ex post-analyses of hydropower projects. Environmental impact assessments should be taken seriously and cannot be considered a formality. In Ethiopia and in many developing countries, the hydropower industry is booming. Although dams and IBWTs can be the best solution for water-related problems in specific contexts, national development goals (such as the expansion of the electricity network) should not be at the expense of rural livelihoods.},
  author       = {Annys, Sofie and Adgo, Enyew and Ghebreyohannes, Tesfaalem and Van Passel, Steven and Dessein, Joost and Nyssen, Jan},
  issn         = {0022-1694},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY},
  keywords     = {Hydroelectricity,clear water effect,river pattern adjustments,commercial farms,development induced displacement and resettlement,livelihood strategies,LAKE TANA,DAMS,BASIN,NILE},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {436--448},
  title        = {Impacts of the hydropower-controlled Tana-Beles interbasin water transfer on downstream rural livelihoods (northwest Ethiopia)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.12.012},
  volume       = {569},
  year         = {2019},
}

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