Ethiopia Plunged into Darkness As Drought Dries Dams

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Ethiopia is facing nationwide power cuts as a result of low water levels at dams, following a poor rainy season, officials have reported.

Two days of sporadic cuts across the country on November 28 and 29 has been attributed to technical issues at the Gibe 1 and Gibe 2 plants – both of which are struggling with low water levels. Drought has already been responsible for the shutdown of the Tana Beles plant in the northwest of the country.

 

Ethiopia’s dependence on hydropower

Ethiopia depends on hydropower for 94 percent of its electricity, which leaves the country highly susceptible to drought. Reports have highlighted the country’s struggle, saying the Tekeze Hydropower Project in Tigray region – which normally generates 300MW of power – is only producing 10MW due to a lack of rainfall.

“There has been a shortage of rain all over country. The dams have not collected as much water as they can collect,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy spokesman Bezuneh Tolcha told Bloomberg.

 

Drought remains a huge concern

As Ethiopia anticipates more sporadic power cuts there are harsh reminders that drought remains a huge challenge for the country and its East African neighbours. More than 8 million Ethiopians have been left in need of food aid in the east of the country due to a lack of rainfall.

Without non-seasonal rain over the next few months the situation could become a crisis for Ethiopia – not just in terms of power, but also food supplies. Aside from power, 90% of the country’s agriculture is also rain-fed, adding economic concerns to the growing list of problems caused by drought.

You don’t have to look far to see the devastating effects of drought on power supplies and the wider economy. Zambia and Zimbabwe, who share the world’s largest man-made dam, have all but sucked the power source dry between them. Zambia has been hit particularly hard and criticism has emerged in both countries that government policies focus on the development of cities at the expense of rural areas – claims that are starting to emerge from Ethiopia.

 

Featured image:

A young man in drought conditions in Ethiopia (5933857075)” by USAID Africa BureauA young man in drought conditions in Ethiopia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.