The main objective of this study is to investigate the major social and economic consequences entailed by the Tekeze Dam on local populations inhabiting Wag Hemra Zone. To achieve this objective, the study primarily used qualitative techniques of data collection. Primary data collecting methods like participatory observation, unstructured, semi-structured and in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and case studies were employed in primary data. Secondary sources were also consulted and reviewed, and integrated to give the primary data a better picture to show the impacts of the dam on the affected communities. To analyze the economic and social impacts entailed by the Tekeze Dam on the local populations, this study has reviewed the literature on the development (specifically dam)-induced displacement and impoverishment. It challenges the notion that displacement entails physical relocation. That is, displacement has been painted on a narrow wall so it was difficult to see the extent of displacement in societies which are affected by development projects, but where there is no resettlement or physical relocation effected. This study asserts that displacement has to be viewed as a holistic and integrative concept. As long as the affected people have faced constrained access to livelihood insurances, the study stresses that the affected people of the Tekeze Dam have become displaced, though not physically relocated. The impoverishment risks-turned impacts faced by local populations correspond with almost all the impoverishment risks included in the Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction (IRR) Model. The study as thus, has applied the IRR Model to see the extent of impoverishment process the people of the Tekeze dam-affected communities have been exposed to. The failure to adopt appropriate mitigating measures and coping mechanisms has resulted in the actual manifestation of the impoverishment risks. Most importantly, the study shows that the dam has robbed the local population the fertile and most productive, “diffa” land. The study thus departs from its analysis by suggesting that when development projects like dams are to be implemented in Ethiopia, an acceptable cost-benefit analysis has to be worked out by which the gains and losses of development projects could be distributed in an equitable manner. The process of making a section of a society impoverished for the sake of realizing the needs of the larger society has to be replaced by the process of empowering the would-be-affected people through the process of pre-emptive attacks on the looming over impoverishment that will be brought by the implementation of development projects like dams.
Key words: Displacement, the Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction (IRR) Model, Tekeze Dam, impoverishment.
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