Idea for Use in the Classroom

Visible on this map in the top-right-hand side, the Gilgel Gibe III is a controversial hydroelectric dam currently under development in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government is using the land in the Lower Omo Valley to expand a system of hydroelectric power plants that will double the country’s electricity output and supply water for industrial farming. Use this map to show students the areas of development and how the dam would help the expansion of sugar cultivation.

Next, have students use the map to predict the impacts of the dam on the people in Kenya. (Note the cities that lie on the lake, the national parks, and the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project.) Explain the controversy to students. The Lower Omo Valley is culturally and biologically diverse and home to thousands of indigenous people. Construction of the dam will deny water to the locals who depend on Lake Turkana for survival. To complete the dam and the accompanying irrigation projects, the development plan involves forcibly removing these people from their homes. Using the resources listed in the list of resources at the bottom of this page, create a table with two columns and list the pros and cons of the dam’s development. As an extension activity, have students research the culture of the people affected by the project.

cultivation
Noun

process of planting, tending, and harvesting crops.

Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

diverse
Adjective

varied or having many different types.

hydroelectric dam
Noun

structure built across a river or other waterway that generates electricity by controlling the flow of water that passes through it.

Noun

energy generated by moving water converted to electricity. Also known as hydroelectricity.

hydroelectric power
Noun

the rate of producing, transferring, or using hydroelectric energy, often measured in kW or mW.

Adjective

characteristic to or of a specific place.

indigenous people
Noun

ethnic group that has lived in the same region for all of their known history.

Noun

watering land, usually for agriculture, by artificial means.