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February 20, 2019

Lake Turkana at risk of drying up, Unesco says

Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana

Lake Turkana faces extinction if Ethiopia goes ahead with plans to construct two more dams upstream, Unesco has said.

The UN agency last week listed the lake as one of the endangered world heritage sites. It said an existing Ethiopian dam and irrigated sugar estates over Kenya’s northern border have drastically reduced water reaching the lake.

According to Unesco,conservation expert Guy Debonnet, plans by Ethiopia to construct more dams would increase the risk of the lake drying up.

“We are concerned that these projects will have implication on the local communities who depend on the lake for fishing and for their livelihood,” Debonnet said.

The lake gets 90 per cent of its water from the Omo River in Ethiopia - one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. Ethiopia its rivers to generate power.

Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam, which was completed in 2016, and irrigation in Kuraz sugar plantations have already reduced water feeding the lake, said Africa director of lobby group International Rivers Rudo Sanyanga.

“Ethiopia should cancel the plan for dams, Gibe IV and Gibe V, on the Omo River,” Sanyanga told the Star yesterday be email.

On Monday, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok urged the state to step up efforts of conserving the lake.

Read: Turkana underground water sufficient for 70 years

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