The dam allows me to have a good life, thank God”, says the Ethiopian smallholder. “I don’t have a house in town like rich people, but at least I can provide sufficiently for my family and send my children to school.” This personal testimony stands for all those who have benefited in recent years from the expansion of irrigation in the Ethiopian highlands. Buth there are other voices in the villges along the Blue Nile: The construction of the dam has brought us nothing but hard-ship. They took our land from us. Many people have to look for work elsewhere, it’s tearing families apart. We are neither dead nor living.”
These two statements from interviews carried out in situ present a contradictory picture of change in relation to water supply and social living. They reveal that water has the power not only to connect, but also to divide.
By constructing new dams, Ethiopia hopes to increase food production, respond to growing energy demand, drive forward modernisation and economic growth, and manage the consequences of climate change. Yet among both local communities and experts, there is disagreement as to whether so much can be achieved at once.
Professor. Detlef Müller- Mahn, CRC Spokesperson, is one of the researchers in the DFG-supported Nile Nexus project. In he‘s contribution to the 2021 German Research magazine, he expounds on the connections or “nexus” between water, energy and food security in the contex of current changes in land use.
The article can be accessed here, on pages 10 – 15.