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.
Dam projects are one of the development undertakings which have resulted in the disruption of many localities. By its nature, dam construction results in undesirable changes in the life of the localities where it is planned to be undertaken. The World Commission on Dams in its report highlights the following:
In the last century, dams were seen as a symbol of industrial progress of man’s ability to tame rivers and harness nature. Dams symbolized various kinds of power-political, economic, social and electrical. For many governments, building large dams was perceived as a demonstration of their nations’ strength. The result is that dams now affect more than half of the world’s major rivers, and an estimated minimum of 40 million people have had to move to make room for dams and reservoirs (2001).
Dams have been in the last quarter of the twentieth century a fashion in developing countries in which over 90% of dam constructions were built in this period. This shows how the developing nations of the world have given attention to securing sustainable energy.
However, such attention to securing sustainable source of energy is not met most of the time by the necessary cautions and cares devoted to the unwanted impacts dams would have on the local population.
For example, Cernea (2000) states that more than 200 million people have become directly or indirectly affected by development projects in the last two decades of the twentieth century.
Most notably, the displacements of people from their land and livelihood have become the center of the problems created by development projects in general and the construction of dams in particular.
Development caused (dam-caused in particular) by socio- economic and environmental problems has gained worldwide attention. This wide spread developments shortfalls brought the very essence of development into question.
In most cases, what development projects promise to deliver has long been bedeviled by the negative outputs they bring out. This is due to the failure of many development projects to ensure social and economic justice and equity based on fair assessment of cost- benefit analysis.
That is, like becoming a refugee, being forcibly ousted from one’s land and habitat by a dam, reservoir or highway is not only immediately disruptive and painful, it is also fraught with serious long-term risks of becoming poorer before displacement, more vulnerable economically, and disintegrated socially (Cernea, 2000).
To be more precise, this decreased benefit derived from the development projects and increased costs incurred by the locals in many cases result in the deepening level of poverty and the further impoverishment of local populations.
Destitution and rooted impoverishment rather than better life and better standard of living have become the hallmark of people who have most of the time become directly affected by development projects or more specifically dams.
In Ethiopia, emphasis given to the study of development-induced displacement in general and dam- induced displacement in particular has been too little. It is on drought and famine initiated resettlement and villagization programs that many works can be found. It is regarding this coerced and improperly handled resettlement and villagization programs that several works on the literature of displacement in Ethiopia are available (Pankhurst and Piguet, 2009).
By the time these projects were being put into practice, unlike in many countries of Africa, dam-induced displacement played a minor role in the nationwide resettlement programs.
Thus, much attention and research has been directed to the methods, questions, ill-treatment and successes of the famine-driven resettlement projects (Cernea, 2005).
Paucity of data on Ethiopian level pertaining to the experience of people who were uprooted and displaced from their dwelling and livelihood due to dam developments has been very tough which made it very difficult to have a clear picture of what social, economic and environmental impacts dam constructions have entailed on the Ethiopian level.
Kebede (2001) work on the issues of Gilgel Gibe dam-induced displacement and resettlement has been the first of its kind in the country. The intention of this study, therefore, is to add something to the literature of dam-induced displacement in Ethiopia by qualitatively analyzing the different plus and down sides of the Tekeze (locally, Taza) dam development project.
Displacement: Definitions and controversies
Displacement as a concept has long been at the center of understanding population relocations and movements that are largely caused by the unwelcoming effects of the different big ventures of governments and their espousing organizations which were conducted. Such ventures include war (taking both of local and international dimensions), development projects and other related activities. There are also natural disasters that result in the expulsion of thousands and millions of people from their base of livelihood and dwelling: drought and famine, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, flood, hurricanes and others.
All these manmade and natural disasters affect the involuntary movement of people. As thus, people continually are forced to move out from their places of habitation and are littered on different places where it becomes too difficult for them to live life as before, and hence exposed to different levels of social and economic hardships and marginalization.
The most widely talked about displaced people are war-displaced refugees. Because of the nature of most wars, the horrible lives to which refugees are exposed to have access to the international community as refugees usually tend to cross international borders and bring international attention towards them.
International Media due to their proximity to global developments such as war would be easy for the international community to get easily acquainted with the fate of refugees. However, this does not mean all refugees receive the most sought after international attention.
A great deal of refugees is internally displaced people who do not cross international borders and remain enclosed within the country where the civil war erupts (Cohen and Deng, 1998; Morvardi, 2006).
Hand in hand with this, the other displaced people who are gaining much coverage are the development-induced displaced people. It would be surprising at first to hear that development projects are working against the social and economic survival of communities.
However, in real terms development just like any economic and social projects carries its down and plus sides. When put into practice, they carry their own imperfections. As a result, several local people and communities have at the end become disadvantaged.
Development projects thus are one of the reasons behind the increasingly observed woes and agonies of local people where the project sites are found. In gauging the impact of development projects, myriads of researches and studies have been conducted. Accordingly, most of them see displacement and development as the two sides of a coin (Dwivedi, 2002).
For better understanding and analysis of displacement and its developments, it will be better to have a clear perception of the definition, scope and concept of displacement and what it entails.
According to Gebre and Ohta (2005), ‘the concept of displacement is more holistic and integrative than most other terms (migration, refugees, etc.)’. To them when reference is made to displacement, emphasis is being laid to the different levels of disturbances and disruptions that occur to the local community. Such disruptions may manifest through involuntary withdrawal from their geographical or physical setting. It also refers to the impact the displacement has on the life of local peoples economically, socially, culturally and psychologically.
According to Gebre and Ohta (2005), the word displacement, ‘unlike migration, resettlement, dislocation and relocation’ is not directly related to ‘geographical movement’ only. It is holistic for it includes not only geographical movement but also effects that displacement has on the basic livelihood and means of survival.
When people are exposed to such state of disturbances in their economic and social lives, they may look outside their communities for better opportunities to cope with the threats brought by development projects. Such indirectly forced displacement could be another manifestation of displacement.
Regarding this, Vandergeest (2003) shows the spatial nature of development projects. Be it small or large, every development project results in ‘reorganizing the meaning and control of space’. He further elaborates this stance of his as:
Because development is fundamentally about reorganizing space, all development has the potential of causing displacement. The question of what constitutes population displacement can lead to messy arguments about whether it means coercion, neglect, ‘’push’’ and ‘’pull’’ factors and so on. For this purpose, the term could be defined broadly to include both direct and indirect forms of displacement. The latter occurs not when people are physically forced to move, but rather when development planning and policies undermine or constrain livelihoods to the degree that people decide to move, seemingly of their own free will. But in a larger context, their livelihood choices are constrained by development policies. This can occur in many ways. For example, zoning regulations may place people in areas where the state will not provide resource tenure security. Infrastructure and services may be distributed in such a way that people need to move if they want access to them (Vandergeest, 2003).
This further extrapolates the idea that specific development processes arise out of circumstances that govern the way the displaced become affected by the displacement and its processes.
Vandergeest (2003) stresses that the displacement of those indirectly affected when looked from the outside appear to be interest- based. However, what is seen as an interest-driven withdrawal from a place is a process where the ‘hidden- hand’ forces the locals to pursue other opportunities and alternatives of livelihood. For him and other scholars who give emphasis to this indirectly caused displacement, one question repeatedly comes to their mind: ‘how could it be possible to say there is no displacement if people though not forced to get direct physical relocation, are deprived of their basic right of access to land and other means of survival?’
This is to say, displacement needs not be understood from the point of resettlement and rehabilitation only. This is because displacement usually is taken as having an equivalent meaning to resettlement. Physical relocation of peoples is one of the manifestations of displacement.
However, displacement as a process is multi-dimensional and could be viewed and understood from different directions. Bartolome et al. (2000) summed it up as:
The question of displacement is very often reduced to one of effective relocation. At best, the displaced are viewed as a group of people who are in need of rehabilitation, not empowerment, for there is no recognition of their disenfranchisement. … In this context, displacement refers to not only to those who are forced to physically relocate in order to make way for the development projects and their related aspects but also includes those who are displaced from their resource base and livelihoods. It is commonly experienced through the loss of land and the disruption of social and economic relationships (Bartolome et al., 2000).
This study thus will attempt to see displacement from a wider and inclusive vantage point.
In this section, attempts are made to unfold the theoretical bases of development-induced displacement and methodological discussion of the paper.
Impoverishment risks and reconstruction (IRR) model: A critical review
Impoverishment risks and reconstruction model as an applicable model, has been devised and started to be made use of as a research tool to understand forced or involuntary displacement by both war/conflicts and mega scale development projects in the last three decades.
The application of the model has received applauded welcome in the African continent as it has become the testing ground of many development policies and strategies directly aim at reducing and if possible at eradicating poverty from the continent.
In due course most of the time, foreign sponsored and financed development projects are put into effect together with their intention of dealing with the existing poverty trap result in the mushrooming of a new type of poverty.
Such cropping up of new poverty in the process of fighting the older one bedevils the different planners, government officials, scholars and development advocates. Thus, to develop a better development policy and strategy, concerned organizations and scholars, public officials and development advocates have called and are still calling for the designing of an integrative and inclusive approach. The designing of such a policy is important to deal better with ails and misfortunes suffered by a segment of a society for the benefit of another section of the society and how it could be mended and prevented (Cernea, 1997).
The IRR model thus is one of the approaches that were developed in the early years of the 1990s to fill the academic, policy and knowledge gap regarding the issue of displacement and its dynamic natures.
Financed and funded by the World Bank, Cernea (1997) dealt with the issue of displacement changing the lane of emphasis and tool of analysis from the stress based four stage ridden Colson’s Model of displacement to the impoverishment centered analysis of displacement.
As the name of the model indicates, three words summed up its essence: impoverishment, risk and reconstruction. This model making use of risk analysis methodological and content perspective tries to give a fuller picture of the impoverishment processes through which the displaced have been exposed to (Cernea, 1997).
This widely used analytical tool in revealing displacements and their adverse effects was first adopted to give fuller picture of what social pathologies displaces are made to face through the analysis of the impoverishment risks.
In an attempt to better develop a palatable explanation, Cernea (2005) by coining the term of IRR Model, the study was able to break down the impoverishment process into eight different but interconnected risk continuums; landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalization, increased morbidity and mortality, food insecurity, loss of access to common resources and services, and social (community) disarticulation.
These impoverishment processes are ‘potential risks in displacement, not necessarily inevitabilities, but most often these risks materialize into actual, real processes of impoverishment because they are not preempted or reduced through up-front counter-risk strategies and reconstruction plans, before displacement even begins’ (Cernea, 2005).
This means that the IRR model not only identifies the potential looming over impoverishment risks but also the counter-risks and reconstruction methods that need to be incorporated in dealing with the process of displacement and its dynamic natures.
According to Cernea (2005), the IRR model serves four functions: predictive, diagnostic, problem resolution and planning, and research methodology. The model also develops its ways by which the potential risks of impoverishment could be avoided or prevented from developing into full- blown actual problems. According to Cernea (2005) model:
“The content of risk is about processes that are not yet actualized, that may happen or not if adequate counter-risk measures are taken. However, if preventive counteractions are not initiated, these potential hazards are converted into actual and materialized impoverishment. Therefore, for overcoming impoverishment, the internal logic of the IRR as an analytical and problem resolution tool prescribes attacking the risks preemptively, early on. Similar to the way in which its risk analysis de-constructs displacement processes into distinct risks, the IRR also deconstructs risk-reversals into a set of reconstruction, and pro-poor support activities” (Cernea, 2005).
Similar to the process of risk identification, risk reversal methodologies have to be adopted so that the looming over impoverishment risks could be dealt with effectively, and impoverishment risks could be translated into opportunities that would enable the displaced to reconstruct their life in a more solid basis and ground equal to or better than pre-displacement life standard.
However, this model, though widely accepted and practiced in recent decades, is not without any defects of its own. Cernea (2005) study was left open-ended for possible addition of risks to the list. In view of this, researchers suggested several risks. Scholars such as Maphapatra et al. (2001) made their attempts to add to Cernea (2005) list of the impoverishment risks such as risk of loss of education, risk of loss of resiliency and risk of migration respectively.
Kassahun (2001) also attempts to uncover what he believes are some of the basic deficiencies of the IRR model. He starts his discussion of his criticism on the model that Cernea (2005) gave unbalanced economic emphasis to the different economic elements of the local economy that could be affected by the displacement processes.
For instance, the IRR model when first adopted and even till date gives special attention to the loss incurred in the crop economy than to the cattle economy. This study also shares Kassahun (2001)’s criticism that the IRR model lacks the conviction to see the cattle economy as part of the local economy that suffers a lot in the hands of displacement and its process.
The cattle economy in many Riverian economies found in climatically hot areas is one of the basic means of survival. When large development projects are put into practice in such areas where dependence on the cattle economy sometimes is beyond proportions, the disruption on the cattle economy will be too difficult to tell.
The risk development projects carried to the cattle economy in such areas is difficult to ignore. Applying the IRR model to study displacement in such areas and giving little or no emphasis to this specific economy would be a huge loss for a researcher, as it will leave a gap in his or her sketch of the impact brought by the displacement process on the affected people. It is also believed that most of the IRR-based research outputs give credits to the holism of the impacts to assess the extent of their effect on the local population.
Indeed, Cernea (2005) later concedes that impacts across different segments of a society have to be taken into consideration so that a better impact-picture could be drawn. The opportunity-threat dictum needs to be considered in analyzing the impact intensity and degree across different lines of societal segments (Cernea, 2005).
Kassahun (2001) suggests that displacement researches had better include explanations that could perceive displacement as opportunity or threat to the displaced people. What is taken as a threat for a segment of a society could turn out to be an opportunity for another section of the society.
Thus, differential impacts across age, gender, wealth, and other lines of differentiation have to be analyzed and researched well to arrive at a concluding explanation regarding the impacts and the natures of displacement (Cernea, 2005).
Moreover, this study believes that Cernea (2005) attempt to gauge the level of impacts based on the distance relocates are taken away from their original area of settlement, and source of survival cannot be taken to have application in every displacement analytical case.
Geographical movement (Gebre and Ohta, 2005) is only an aspect of displacement. Displacement also refers to the disruption and disturbances that are injected to the living styles of communities who as a result are made to suffer from particularly the loss of the basic means of social and economic livelihood and survival.
When distance of movement is taken as the sole vantage point from which to see the negative impacts of displacement on affected people, then there will be some loopholes that would be left uncovered and which will create gaps on the complete sketch of the displacement process and its effects.
Based on the aforementioned criticisms, this study tries to apply the IRR model to its case of displacement and impoverishment study.
This research used a qualitative research design. To gather the necessary data, the study used both primary and secondary sources. The secondary data were collected from journals, books and archival documents. Purposive and snowball sampling was used for this study.
Purposive sampling is used by selecting those research participants who were believed to have come of worse displacement and snowball sampling is used to clearly identify those who have been impoverished at a much higher degree than the others by taking a lead from some of the research participants.
The sample size for the study is 10 key informants, 20 semi-structured and unstructured interviewees and 22 focus group discussants. The primary data which were used in producing this study were qualitative in nature.
Qualitative techniques were chosen because they help to squarely see developments brought about by the construction of the dam and its impacts on the local economy and the social lives of the affected societies. The primary data were collected from the affected dam relocatees pertaining to the socio-economic losses the dam has brought on them and how they have been treated by the concerned bodies in the process of rehabilitation.
Participant as an observer
The researcher became a participant observer for three months, and was able to get a detailed insight on how dam has affected the people. The researcher spent time with the local men and women during the time of coffee ceremony in šila (täla, local drink) houses. Conflict resolutions (locally märekaba) especially those arising from the issue of grazing land were also noted by the researcher. This gave the researcher the avenue to know his research subjects more. Employing such a method helped the researcher with the necessary data needed for the study.
Unstructured, semi-structured and in-depth interviews were utilized. Unstructured interview was used to gather data from the people who were going about their day to day activities. It is the unstructured interview that gave the researcher the avenue to be familiar with the informants, giving him the freedom to communicate with them especially when something struck his attention. Semi-structured interview was used to gather data from project officers, zonal officers, agricultural development agents and health officers, and informants from the affected communities. They were interviewed using an interview guide. Moreover, in-depth interview was conducted with key informants using an interview guide to ensure optimum coverage of different issues related to the research subjects.
Focus group discussion
Focus group discussions were one of the data gathering techniques used in the field. Group discussions conducted were valuable in that they helped to crosscheck and validate the data provided by the different individuals in the group discussions and the information collected from informants. In addition, group discussions helped to identify key informants that gave them the chance to look at those who were the best in articulating and expressing themselves.
Case studies were also used to elucidate and explain the different topics and issues that were raised. Some extended and many short cases were utilized to further substantiate the qualitative analysis developed using the information tapped by the aforementioned data gathering techniques.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Applying the IRR model to analyze the displacement and impoverishment processes in the affected areas, this study aims at elucidating the impacts of the Tekeze Dam construction in villages and settlements that are found in Wag Hemra Zone. About fifteen village settlements that are found in the Worädas of Abärgällé, Zequala and Sähala Säyémet have become economically and socially affected. It tries to see how the changes that development projects have injected into the local economy and the existing social settings that in most part are detrimentally affected. Information and data gathered from the project managers, Zonal and Woräda administrative offices and concerned bodies, and most importantly from the affected people are triangulated to come up with a clear and better understanding of the new social and economic settings which the dam projects have brought into effect.
Cernea (2000)’s IRR model is used to critically assess the social and economic impacts of the Tekeze Dam on the affected communities. This study used Koenig (2001)’s classification of the eight- impoverishment risks of Cernea (2004)’s model. For the sake of simplicity and treating similar risks under a group, Koenig (2001) lined up the eight-impoverishment risks identified by Cernea (2005) into three groups. He grouped the risks of landlessness, joblessness, and loss of access to common property as economic risks. Marginalization and social disarticulation are treated as socio-cultural risks.
In addition, he wants to see homelessness, food insecurity and increased morbidity and mortality as social welfare risks (2001). Thus, the economic risks to which the affected communities are being exposed to are discussed in the following sections.
We were made to lose every source of our survival; there is nothing left for us here Bere Mekonnen (January 23, 2010), an informant from Selazgi kebele lamenting on the impact the dam has had on the economic life of the communities that depended much on the water and soil of the Tekeze.
Loss of land
From the economic risks that Cernea (1997) has identified, landlessness greatly fits as the case of the displaced people of the Tekeze Basin.
Agriculture in Northern Ethiopia is rain-dependent and the plot of land is too fragmented to enable the farmer to produce as much as he can. This rain dependency and fragmentation of land has been at the center of non-stop vulnerability of the peasants to periodic drought and famine. The Wag peasants are one of the north Ethiopian peasants who got bedeviled by the recurrently occurring farming crisis.
In Wag, rainfall is scarce and sometimes this scant rain stops coming. Thus, communities situated along the course of the Tekeze River have committed themselves to effectively and efficiently using the water and soil of the Tekeze. These peasants have two types of land possessions. They own land that is found far from the course of the river, which is not fertile, and has low productivity. The other is the land they own across the bank of the river and is conducive for conducting flood-recessed agriculture diffa-based farming.
This land is too crucial for sustaining the economic and social life of the communities that are currently affected by the construction of the dam. The construction of the Tekeze Dam has resulted in the appropriation of land that has been for long under the work of the Tekeze inhabitants.
Group discussants and informants ascertain that this landlessness could be equated to the disorder the loss has brought to the livelihood and survival systems of the affected communities.
For people who earn their daily income from the following the courses of rivers, the waters of the rivers are at the epicenter of their lives. The rivers provide the basic ways and means of survival for the people in such a way that it would be difficult for them to imagine living their lives outside of the river-dominated environment.
As thus, for the locals of the Tekeze, the river and its basin have been the major sources of survival. They put that any action that would make them to be separated from this river could be tantamount as an attempt to disentangle them from their base of economic and social sustenance.
Rain-fed agriculture farming activity needs water to sustain the plants, but the area received too little (scanty) rain to support its agricultural activity. Peasants have to wait until September when the water of the Tekeze subsides and diminishes in magnitude and amount leaving deposited alluvial soils that create a favorable flood recessed land.
Using the silt fertile soil, they produce what they need for a year. Twice or thrice a year they are able to bring the best out of these flood recessed land to sustain their lives. Now all this has gone for good and things have gone for worse leaving the locals at the mercy of the government, owner of the project.
The government ironically failed to react on time to the woes of the peasants and has also failed to deliver the compensation needed. Even the payments received by the peasants cannot restore the economic benefits the locals derived from the lost economic means of survival. This can be further elaborated by the following recount of an interviewee:
As the land receives small amount of rainfall, even if there is no rain during the summer season, in September we till the flood-recessed area of the river to effectively use the alluvial soil Tekeze River has brought. Using this silt fertile soil, we were able to produce for our yearly demand. Now all this has gone for good. By then one diffa was granted for twelve peasants. Six of them provided labor service and the remaining six spent about six days plowing the land. As the land was too vast, we most of the time could not finish the land plowing. In a certain year, the river might outflow its banks and inundate a part of the diffa, thus leading to declined productivity. However, this loss could be compensated when the river brought silt soil, which covered the unproductive land, and again we could not finish the land tilling. We did not know how much land we owned in hectare but in ţemad. When we spent six days tilling the land, we could not reach the final touching point of the land. You can easily imagine and calculate how vast the land was. Because we believe that by its nature Tekeze does not come without its mother, always there came silt and alluvial soil loaded water with the river. We believed and highly depended much on Tekeze than on our cattle and goats as the river has been an invaluable resource handed down from generation to generation as a means of survival, and also as a seemingly eternal one. It has created for us a strong bond with the past lives of our ancestors. However, if the long awaited compensation is now paid, I will leave my place of habitation. After I receive the payment, I plan to make my living by migrating to another safe unaffected area. I have lost faith and become hopeless in this land. Everything has now become trapped and we cannot get in touch with our relatives living on the other side of the river as the crossing paths have been totally swamped by the reservoir. To make things worse for us, the dam had flooded the wells and springs on which we depended on for potable water. Our cattle population is now almost lost. All in all, trouble has reigned over us (Bere Mekonnen, from Selazgi Kebele (January 23, 2010)).
The aforementioned recount and other interviewees claimed that a group of twelve people were granted the right to till a diffa the fertile and productive flood recessed land. They do not know how much hectare of land they owned and a peasant tilled. They only know the extent of their land using a local measurement called ţemad.
Each married peasant family had six ţemad of diffa. One hectare is equivalent to four ţemad. Thus, each family had one and half hectare of diffa. However, such lack of appropriate land measurement has made the compensation process too complicated and exhaustive and concerning the argument of the owners of the project, this has been the major hindrance for the quick payment of the compensation.
As a result, it was difficult to appropriately measure and register how much the peasants have lost flood-recessed agricultural lands. Informants also argued that the project officers who came later to measure the land failed to take into account all the land each peasant possessed.
Accordingly, the affected peasants do not think that the compensation, though not paid when the research was conducted, does not fairly recognize the appropriate value of their lost land. The compensation shortfall has further been aggravated by the incapability of the government bodies that were unable to identify who the legal owners of the land are.
Those who studied the feasibility study and worked on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the dam development have tried to see displacement from a different perspective. The project owners see displacement in a much-narrowed vantage point in that it is only when there is physical movement or relocation that they could concede that there is displacement.
Indeed, the Coordination Office of Tekeze and other concerned bodies of the dam project have made it clear that as the society will be affected partially, then preparing a resettlement scheme has been found unnecessary. This comprehension of the displacement concept and its complex nature has resulted in the creation of several loopholes in the implementation of strategies that can better off the affected peasant communities and help them to sustainably reestablish themselves economically.
Such optional use of the definition and concept of displacement as having only direct linkage with the geographical movement of people has constrained the action of the project owners and those stakeholders who play part in the implementation of the project in giving emphasis to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the lost life bases.
Discussions with informants having affiliation with the office of the project management reveal that the dam project does not have any resettlement scheme. This is a wrongly perceived interpretation of the anticipated impacts of the dam.
Hence, the government and its functionaries considered the loss of land could easily be compensated at a market cost, not at replacement cost.
What such bodies do not understand is that the loss of land for the affected communities has radically changed their livelihood and survival means. Displacement, as defined earlier, is believed to be holistic and integrative in that it is multidimensional and complex in its nature.
In a wider scope, it refers to the different changes that development projects bring that could work against the continuity of the existing livelihood and socio- economic activities. When development directly or indirectly results in the disruption of the livelihood of communities which as a result are forced to take new tracks of life with in their accustomed territory or out of that area, then it is possible to say that displacement is at work.
An informant better sums up this loss of productive land and the impact it has on the sustenance of the life of the affected communities by reiterating the importance of the flood-recessed land to the communities as:
I had six ţemad (about 1.5 ha) of diffa (flood recessed land) and two ţemad (0.5 ha) tsärä bäräha or extra land (the land that is naturally infertile and unproductive). As the name implies, the extra land is the land which we use when there is rain, and if the rain does not come, we do not use the infertile and unproductive land. Thus, if the rain does not come, the source of our survival is the diffa. As it is flood-recessed land, it is fertile and productive. Even if the rain comes since the land is porous and does not squeeze the water, the land becomes useless. The eroded soil usually goes to the diffa. This land is devoid of adequate rainwater as it is ‘God and nature damned’ (Desta Belete, from Debreberhan kebele (March 11, 2010)).
In this sense, the affected people of the Tekeze basin have lost their productive and fertile lands that are central to their survival. Due to the land possession type which is prevalent in the area, most of the farmers now are left with the unproductive and infertile land which is locally known as tsärä bäräha. This land cannot help the peasant to derive their sustenance. This condition added to the loss of the most productive and fertile flood- recessed land which has put the life of the affected communities in a precarious situation.
Table 1 shows how much land the dam has swamped in each affected Woräda, and it also shows the disparity in figure between the project’s estimation and what the local populations think is the right estimation. This was adapted from the minute of the meeting held in 13th July, 2009 in Addis Ababa regarding the estimation of the compensation price of the swamped flood-recessed land of the Tekeze Project.
The table shows that the dam has swamped a total of 1002.956 ha of diffa land. From Zequala Woräda, the amount of land swamped is 206.012 ha and there is no complaint regarding the measured figure of the land to determine the compensation price.
In Abärgällé Woräda however, the land measurement according to the argument of informants was not appropriate as a minimum of 103.43 ha land which was left unmeasured as the dam impounded it.
The project officers put an estimated 688.57 ha as appropriate for compensation excluding the unmeasured figure. Moreover, the table shows that in Sähala Säyémet Woräda the project has overlooked the inclusion of 41 ha from the original 149.374 ha of diffa land, as it is believed that the original figure was an overestimation.
Thus, 108.374 hectare diffa qualified as a land good for compensation payment in Sähala Säyémet Woräda. The table also shows how late the zonal administration and the project office were in informing the locals about the direct impact of the dam on the local populations as it failed in the Worädas of Sähala Säyémet and Abärgällé to measure all lands that were expropriated by the project.
By the time the land measurement was conducted, the dam had inundated part of the usable land so the authorities considered it as land that is difficult to tame which they thought was never used before. Though the people of the affected communities complained a lot about the injustices of the land measurement, the officials assigned for the land measurement were and still are not ready to hear what the victims have to say. This was what created the gap between what the locals assumed to be the amount of land which have been swamped by the dam and what the officials think is the land impounded by the water of the dam. Cernea (2000) believes that the risks of impoverishment that became a reality after the introduction and then implementation of development projects particularly dams have to be identified first and dealt with efficiently.
For him every risk could be subjected to its respective counter-risk strategy. Hence, when land is taken away from the affected communities, then it has to be re-given to them somehow in that they could receive a land of similar value and standard.
Land for land substitution has been his best option for reversing the risk of landlessness. However, it is always difficult to find land for compensating the loss of land. This is true for peasants of this study in the three Worädas who were made to lose their diffa or productive and fertile lands.
To this end, an exhaustive and tiresome compensation process has been taken. However, even this compensation meant to be paid to the peasants who have lost their land was not given to them at the right time, and affected communities found it difficult to reconstruct their lives. They have stopped tilling the flood-recessed land, which was the main source of livelihood, for three years. This failure of the concerned bodies of the project to do so has further complicated the situation and the life conditions the peasants are now in. The risk of landlessness has now become an actual, materialized impoverishment process from which the victims found it difficult to come out and reconstruct their life better.
The other economic risk to which the affected communities have become exposed to is the risk of joblessness. It has been stated that the communities found along the courses of the river spend thrice a year working in the flood-recessed land. This could easily show how much labor they invest on this farming activity.
As of the impoundment of the dam, joblessness began to characterize the economic life of the affected communities as the dam has inundated their land. Results from group discussions and interview with informants show that for the last three years, affected communities have stopped working on diffa lands. This has created underemployment and unemployment for the affected communities.
In short, many have become jobless. Furthermore, what the project has promised to deliver (wide range of job opportunities) has been a total failure. No member of the affected communities had the chance to work in the construction activities of the dam.
According to Cernea (2005), joblessness as an impoverishment risk caused by displacement refers to the risk of losing wage employment for those who work in it, for example in the Tekeze case, agricultural activities and other related ones.
The management of the dam development program has overlooked the detrimental effect the dam has brought to the livelihood of sharecroppers and agricultural laborers (locally, arshe) who depended on it for their daily survival.
When compensation is to be delivered to those who lost their land and have become in consequence unemployed or underemployed, these agricultural laborers and sharecroppers were and are still left out of the compensation scheme. Compensation is to be paid to those who claimed to have lost their land possession.
For example, there were poor peasants with no access to land especially the youths who were not eligible to obtain land during the 1991 land redistribution as they were by then children. This population section of the affected communities lives their life by becoming either sharecroppers or wage laborers in agricultural fields.
However, the dam has constrained for this people the chance to be sharecroppers and agricultural wage laborers thereby making them too vulnerable to the impoverishment risks of the dam. It is ethically and developmentally unfair to see such section of the society left out without being given the chance to rehabilitate and reconstruct its lost economic livelihood. The following statement by an informant could further elaborate this:
The impoundment of our land by the dam water has brought crisis to the livelihood of not only those who had land but also to those who derived their livelihood from the land as share croppers and agricultural laborers. Previously (during the pre- displacement time), we the owners of the diffa, those who work on the land as share croppers benefited from the land by selling for example sugar cane (locally mäwa). Now all this has gone for good (Gebrat Kebede, from Bäläqa kebele (February 10, 2010)).
More relevant and highly convincing cases of unemployment or underemployment are what the farmers experienced by losing the most productive and fertile land locally termed as diffa.
Thrice a year, informants and group discussants stressed that the affected communities spent their time sweating on the flood- recessed land to extract the best out of it. This land which was the source of basic survival and livelihood, served as an arena of being self-employed. However, with the impounding of the land by the dam, the process of underemployment and unemployment has been recorded.
In the last three years, the rate of underemployment and unemployment has been accelerated with many peasant families finding it difficult to sustain their life.
With the widespread of joblessness, Cernea (2004) proposes his way out to enable the displaced secure job opportunity in the new economic and social setting. This risk reversal mechanism that could help peasants with job opportunities has not been injected to the reconstruction process in the Tekeze case. It seems that what the project has promised (to create jobs for the affected communities) has evaporated into the thick air.
Constrained access to common property resources
Cernea (2004) points out that common property resources that serve as one of the supplementing major sources of survival are also affected by the introduction and implementation of development project.
Common property resources such as pastures, water bodies, burial grounds, quarries, edible forest products, firewood and others serve as, particularly for the poor, landless and poor household’s source of income. However, the development project that is ongoing has a negative impact on the maintenance of common property regimes.
Concerning the Tekeze Dam case, common property resources such as water bodies, pastures, and edible forest products have become compromised. The loss of edible forest products or fruits such as maţa, abena, maleta, maloza, and most importantly geba is taken by many informants as the loss of one source of income.
In particular, geba has been used by poor women-headed households living in bäläqa and selazgi as a source of income by taking it to the market of Bäyeda in Gonder. Apiculture of wild bees (locally, berahlle) is also one of the endangered common property regimes. Apiculture is used to generate income from the honey produced from it.
Now as the forest found across the river is impounded by water, the local population especially the poor are deprived of having access to the taming of wild bees apiculture.
Pastures such as gečä, wečena, hazehaza, and šifäleša have diminished in availability. These pastures are used to feed cattle. However, with the impoundment of the pasturelands, access to such pastures has become very constrained. The gečä can also be used as a source of income for women who depend on basketry making.
Women use this gečä to organize their home when they become newly wedded. Moreover, stone, which is found along the shore of the river, is also used for making grinding mill (locally, Sama). Now informants said that they are forced to take several kilometer journeys to look for modern grinding mills. Though it is assumed that access to modern electric/motor grinding mills eases the workload of women, the locals reported that the inability to access the grinding mills has brought a lot of burden to them.
The other common property resource which has been affected by the construction of the dam is water bodies, especially water wells and spring that serve as sources of potable water for the local population.
In rural Ethiopia, people get access to pure water in areas that are found adjacent mainly to rivers. When something goes wrong with the rivers, the residents’ access to drinkable water is jeopardized.
Similarly, the inhabitants of the Tekeze Basin rely on wells and springs that are found near the river. An informant briefly summed up what Tekeze means to the local population as:
Tekeze is the light of our eyes. This informant went on to say Tekeze is our water. Water is life; how is it possible to live in this desert land without water.
Now that many wells and springs have become totally swamped by the dam, the people are forced to use the water of the reservoir. This has resulted in the wide spread prevalence of water borne diseases.
To deal with such a problem, the project owners in their feasibility studies have made it clear that sixteen water wells are to be built. However, nothing has been done to overcome the problem of access to potable water.
Even in some kebeles, water (locally, aqu) shortage has been so acute that they have to go as far as seven hours of walk to fetch water. Potable water problem was prevalent in kebeles such as Selazgi, Säménbär and bäläqa.
However in some kebeles like Debreberhan, the problem of potable water is not that common as the local population has the alternative of fetching water from one of the major tributaries of the Tekeze River that is Terari River. As the area is rugged and mountainous, it is very tiresome and difficult to dig water wells; emphasis has to be laid on the work of purifying the water of the reservoir.
Development-induced displacement if not well planned and well undertaken results in not only economic disruption but also social and institutional failures.
Cernea (2000) in particular and other proponents of the IRR model identify social disarticulation and marginalization as the basic social risks that development-induced displacement brings to the affected communities.
For these scholars if not properly managed, these risks could turn into real nightmare for the local populations that they might find it difficult to find themselves in a state of harmonized social organization and limited social differentiation.
In most areas, which have been affected by development, in particular dam induced displacement; social disarticulation and marginalization next to the economic risks have been hugely felt with people finding it difficult to lead a socially stable life in the ‘new’ economic, social and environmental settings. Based on the evidences and exposures seen, Cernea (2004) briefly sums up the risk of social disarticulation as:
Forced displacement tears apart the existing social fabric. It disperses and fragments communities, dismantles patterns of social organization and interpersonal ties; Kinship groups became scattered as well. Life-sustaining informal networks of reciprocal help, local voluntary associations, and self-organized mutual service are disrupted. This is a net of loss of valuable ‘social capital’ that compounds the loss of natural, physical, and human capital. The social capital lost through social disarticulation is typically unperceived and uncompensated by the programs causing it, and this loss has long-term consequences (2004).
The aforementioned brief summation of social disarticulation shows that with the economic losses, displaced people face the loss of social capital that is at center of human cohesion and interaction. This could play a profound role in making societies destabilized and disintegrated.
Though in the Tekeze case, there is no government who has initiated wholesale dislocation that may result in the fragmentation and dispersion of communities, the other aspects of social capital that Cernea (1997) identifies earlier have in one way or the other been observed in losing their ground. What makes the loss of social capital very worrying is that the dam development project has not given the necessary attention to it.
According to Marxist economic anthropologists, social institutions, their practice and implementation are governed by the forces and relations of production that constitute the substratum of society.
In line with this, the French Marxist anthropologist Claude Meillassoux in his work Maidens, Meal, and Money (1981, English translation), the concept of a “domestic” mode of production analyzes the forces and relations of production and the system that is established by the “ordered manipulation of the living means of reproduction, that is, women”.
In relation to the forces and relations of production, Meillassoux was interested in the analytical description of a “labor process” of self-sustaining agricultural “productive cells”. He also places emphasis on the productive cells of a “domestic community” which is hallmarked by the establishment of an exchange network that mainly involves women.
He further states that the economic significance of this network of exchange involving women is manifested more in a situation where the number of people in each productive cell is lower than the minimum required ensuring endogamous reproduction. That is, the relationship between labor process and property relations in the domestic mode of production is thus determined by the low level of productivity but dominated by the importance of reproducing human labor power.
In such a way, pre- capitalist societies according to Meillassoux’s argument develop traditional social security systems. Traditional security systems refer to the set of traditional institutions that are practiced based on the principle of economic solidarity to redistribute factors of production and goods and services between households in order to decrease to a certain extent differences in consumption and productivity levels, and functions within the network of social relationships.
The aforementioned Meillassoux’s explanation of social networking generally shows that the dominant factor that governs social cohesion and networking is the due credit that societies, in many rural African cases for example, give to the social exchange mainly involving women.
In addition, the scarcity of labor and capital power in agricultural domestic productive cells has forced households to come into active social and economic discourses. For example, marriage among the rich is understood as a way of maintaining their economic and social status through which an equivalent marriage relation could be established with another household that can help maintain their economic and social manipulation of the society. This Meillassoux’s explanation, though Marxist-oriented dictum can be applied to this case study in that it can help to illuminate the social networking prevalent among the affected people of the dam.
The people of the Tekeze River Basin just like the other Agew people of the Wag area have developed the habit of working together in their fields in the times of plowing, weeding and harvesting. The very nature and extent of the flood-recessed land locally known as diffa has been the driving force according to the argument of group discussants and informants which made the practice of work exchange parties more of a norm than an obligation.
This is done mainly to overcome the outcomes of woes and agonies that limited economic and social resources. With the basis of resource pooling and joint-action, work exchange parties most commonly referred to as agricultural work cooperation parties have been given the much needed attention and care. This fits the aforementioned analytical explanation of Meillassoux’s social networking. It is based on this background that one of the famous work exchange organizations among the affected people of the Tekeze basin is organized and practiced. It is the lebena work exchange party.
Necessitated by the raison d'être of reciprocal economic relations, lebena makes the Wag Agew particularly those living along the courses of the Tekeze River draw their labor and capital together in the production processes of the local economy. Capital wealth and economic status at large determine the extent to which different households come together in pooling their labor and capital for the operation of the lebena party. Lebena involves the pooling of capital and human resources in times of plowing, weeding and harvesting. Particularly for those who derived their basic livelihood and means of survival by working on the diffa and as the diffa was too vast to be worked with by a single household, the different households come together using lebena.
An instance of lebena is if two households have a plow ox each, then they have to organize what locally is called bärré lebena (teaming up of draught power). By doing so, they can overcome the draught shortage they face. In creating this lebena, most of the time family and kinship ties are given credence. However, decisions to team-up capital and labor are individualistic and driven by economic rationale. In general, the prevalence of limited access to draught power makes the practice of lebena highly apposite and almost inevitable.
This pooling of such capital and human resources to effectively and efficiently deal with the arduous farming activities, group discussants and informants claimed, helped them in establishing greater degree of interdependence and cohesion manifested in intra-group and intra-community relations. They also claimed that it help them to deal with the different social issues such as in treating conflicts at individual basis that may arise within the intra-group relation. As lebena allows the participation of many individuals, it requires smooth relations between and among participants. Thus to see the effective organization and practice of lebena, individuals who are not in good terms have to clear their enmity. The lebena participants will summon the individuals who are not on good terms so that they can come of their bad feeling they have developed to one another. As lebena is mainly dictated by economic terms, in most cases conflictual cases are settled peacefully among the participants.
The following narration made by an informant shows the impact the dam development has had on the social life of the affected communities as:
Previously [during the pre-displacement period] as the diffa [the fertile and productive flood recessed land] was too vast, it was difficult to work on it alone. It rather required the teaming up of many farmers; otherwise, it would be unthinkable to treat the land alone. The presence of the diffa helped our social network and interaction to excel. Now that the diffa has gone for good, there is a weakened social interaction among us. In the past, for instance, when the time came to farm the diffa, the farmers would team up through the lebena reciprocal association to work on it. For this teamed up work to go well, the owner of the land had to prepare feast. For example, if ten of us tilled someone’s land, then next we would work on the land of the other and the trip goes on until the end. However, to get going this process of feast it requires good harvest. Now that the diffa has gone for good, it has become difficult to maintain the social institution of lebena. Though the unproductive and infertile land that remains untouched by the dam development is too vast, most of the time we do not use the institution of lebena to see the land worked on. This land does not receive the necessary rain for in the areas outside the Tekeze basin the moisture content of the soil is too little to allow the growth of crops comfortably. Unless God let the land be showered by rain, the land becomes devoid of moisturized soil so that it will not yield much produce to help lebena going. For the last three years, the land has seen no rain. As thus, it has become difficult to organize lebena (Berhanu Gebrehana, from Semenber Kebele (January 3, 2010).
This shows how much the loss of the diffa land has critically affected the process of lebena. It tells that as the diffa was too vast to tame, it required the teaming up of capital and labor that can enable each peasant family work on the land timely. To do this, the organization of
lebena has paramount importance. It also shows that the affected communities have developed a perception that the dam, by taking away their diffa, has brought weakened social interaction through the constrained practicality of lebena. The data even concede that the dam unaffected lands that are unproductive and infertile one, though vaster than the lost diffa, has not resulted in the smooth operation of lebena. For example, the infertile and unproductive land, which is left unscathed by the dam, has not received adequate rainfall, and hence making the operation of lebena unnecessary. However, all these social and economic benefits that lebena bring to the people seem to have diminished in practice and even for the last three years its practice has been non- existent.
This is due to the fact that the dam has resulted in the loss of as repeatedly pointed out the diffa which is the most fertile and productive land. The diffa, which mainly was the raison d'être behind the carrying out of the lebena practice, has been lost. Thus, the affected people have now got lesser chance to get teamed up and engaged in performing lebena as they are left with the un-productive and infertile land which does not need the kind of cooperation and teaming up required by the diffa. The infertile land in times of good rain as it is wider than the diffa may require the practice of lebena. However, as the land is found in the agro-climatic zone of bäräha the rain it receives is too small to support the going of agricultural activities. Under such circumstance, it will be difficult to see the organization and practice of lebena. This has jeopardized the lebena institution and the economic and social benefit derivatives that it entails to the society.
Another manifestation of social disarticulation has been the destabilizing role the construction of the dam has played in the maintenance of the marriage institution as its impact is left imprinted on the tradition of securing bride price or bride wealth which is locally called macha. As the dam-induced displacement has resulted in the disruption of the cattle economy and as dowry payment is effected through cattle wealth, practicing the marriage institution as before has become a trouble than a gift. The following informant regarding the negative impact of the dam construction and the entailed loss of land and diminished cattle wealth shows the disarticulation of marriage institution of the affected people as:
In the past, a daughter was engaged even when she was in her mother's womb for she was considered as one basic source of economic bargain. But now as you will not be welcomed without property and wealth, let alone to receive someone who will bring a dowry it has become difficult for us to see someone who can buy a cloth. It hence has become a shame to give birth to a daughter for it is believed she could no longer be of huge importance, but a burden to her family. She is not in such circumstance expected to be of high value as a son. In time past, a daughter used to bring benefits to a family as dowry would come, bride wealth in terms of cattle or goats would be presented to her family, the would-be- husband would serve the families of the daughter in several agricultural and other related activities, and he would also present clothing to her family. All these are benefits accrue from giving birth to a daughter. Now a son could not get easy access to cattle and goat ownership [as the cattle economy has become highly disrupted by the diminishing size of the grazing lands for the dam water impounded it] to effect the payment of the bride wealth. As thus, giving birth to a daughter is of less value and importance. … Badly convinced that the previous marriage tradition has come of age, we wanted to send our daughters to school. However, we have lost the economic capability to do so (Chekole Negusse, Debreberhan Keble (March16, 2010).
This shows the economic base of the marriage institution has become disorganized and disarticulated among the affected people of the dam. It is also possible to see the differential impact the social disarticulation is manifested on gender basis. It is evident from this that women compared with men have lost their bargaining power which could be established based on the wealth and social and economic status of the families of the sons who want to marry them. The society has now started to count the girls as having smaller value than men. The inability of the families to find ways by which girls can attend schools has further complicated the current life and future fate of the girls of the affected communities.
To depart from this analysis of social disarticulation, it is important to say in few words the impact the dam has on family cohesion. Some poor families and newly impoverished families under the huge stress of the economic strains they have been through due to the dam have seen their young members migrate as labor migrants to some employment potential areas such as Humära and Mätäma. This migration of the basic asset of the family, the young, has created problems to the usual smooth operation of family oriented agricultural related
activities. Informants indicated that this problem has been very much observed among the women-headed families and elders.
Moreover, culturally the people have lost one major heritage: the impoundment of the Hasäna monastery.
This monastery, local traditions indicate, was built between the eighth and sixteenth centuries. An informant maintained that the monastery began to serve as an asylum for those Christians who fled from the persecution that they were facing at the hand of the traditionally famous woman who attacked Axum, Yodit Gudit. Other informants, however, claim it was the War of Ahmad Gran that made the appearance of Hasäna monastery possible. Both traditions regarding the establishment of the monastery share one thing that Christians who wanted to escape from the persecution and murder that was put against them in either one of the periods mentioned above established it. It is not only the origin of the monastery that is obscure but also the nature of the monastery and the material and spiritual heritages that are found in it. Traditions claim that there are forty-four arks, more than 13 holy springs, praying caves, and in total, there are more than eighty movable and immovable heritages in the monastery. The construction of the dam has resulted in the complete impoundment of the monastery, and the alleged heritages seem to have been inundated by the water.
The kind of marginalization the dam affected people have faced is quite different from the kind of marginalization that historically existed in the area. The historical marginalization applied to the Black smiths and Kayla is more of cultural, social and economical.
The other socio-cultural risk, which has turned itself into actual problem endangering the socio-cultural setting of the affected people, is marginalization. Though massive scale relocation is not effected, the nature of displacement prevalent in the affected areas has resulted in the exposure of the people to different scales of mar- ginalization. Cernea (2000) points out that “the facets of marginalization are multiple. The cultural status of displacees is belittled when they go to new relocation areas, and where they are regarded as “strangers’’ and denied opportunities and entitlements. Psychological marginalization and its consequences are typically over- looked in resettlement planning. Yet, cultural and behavioral impairments, anxiety and decline in self- esteem have been widely reported from many areas’’. Though Cernea shows the marginalization risk from the point of resettlement and the relation the resettled people have with the host communities, in this study’s case marginalization as an experience of the displacement process injected to the affected communities could be understood better by explaining it through the experience of migration that the affected communities particularly those possessing cattle wealth were forced to make. Informants and focus group discussants showed that the migration decision, which affected cattle owners have taken, has brought the grim experience of marginalization at the hands of those communities where the grazing resources are found. Particularly migrants who have gone to Bäläsa (found in Gondar, or Begemdir previously) have been the most exposed ones to the sufferings of this social pathology.
The following recount made by an informant shows the impact the dam development has on the marginalization of the affected communities as:
I have migrated to Bäläsa Arbačeguar in guahla Worada specifically to Digeb locality. They [the Bäläsa people] beat us as it pleases them. They say to us “you poor Agew you have come again”. We cannot go anywhere. To save the life of our cattle, we become silent. Because we have got no choice, we go back to where we are beaten. I once swore to God that I would not go back to Bäläsa. However, what else could I do when I see my cattle dying in front of my eyes? I opt to be beaten by the Bäläsa people rather than see my cattle die of hunger. Ecologically Bäläsa is a good area though the people are too bad. I can find ample pasture and grazing we cannot find them in other localities of the zone and of other Woradas. They fear no one and no one can judge them. We tolerate all these troubles hoping that this day will pass. It is common utterance among us that what else could we do with what the day has brought on us; simply, waiting for it to pass, nothing else (Kiros Ashagre Bäläqa kebele (February 6, 2010).
This shows that marginalization has been the characteristics of the life of affected people who migrated to some resourceful areas to save the life of their cattle and what miserable life they have faced and how the host communities have treated them.Cernea put that when displacees move into a new area they have the chance of being viewed as strangers who come to the land to vie for the limited economic and social resources of the host communities. This is what has happened to the migrant people moving out from the affected communities of the Tekeze Dam. In the above case, the informants indicate that the Bäläsa people were unwelcoming to the cattle migrant Agew. It is shown that these people referred to the migrants as people who always migrate out. Moreover, the case indicates that in the face of increased ill- treatment the migrants have faced at the hands of the Bäläsa people, they have many times decided not to go to Bäläsa. However, they could not live up to their decision for they had to and have to secure forage for their cattle. Thus, they could not escape from the kind of marginalization they face by becoming migrants.
Social welfare risks
The impoverishment risks of homelessness, food insecurity and increased morbidity and mortality are grouped under, based on Koenig’s classification, the social welfare risks. However, due to the nature of the displacement process in this study’s case, the risk of homelessness has been non-existent. As residential areas are found far away from the course of the river, the dam does not impound them. Because of this fact, no one has become homeless due to the dam construction. The project managers and other concerned bodies saw and still see displacement from the point of being homeless. Thus for them in the affected communities no process of displacement has been injected as the residential areas are left unscathed. However, what they have missed to understand is that displacement is broader in its scope and must not be seen from such an acute angle in that they have lost the whole picture of the impoverishment process that has been at work in the affected communities. When people are made to lose their means of survival and livelihood, then what else they can do rather than searching for another life way out to deal with the impasse life condition. In this regard, they could become as much desperate to leave the area they have settled for long seeking a more secured means of survival and livelihood and they may pursue it where it is found even far away from their homes. Is this not an indirect case of making the people become homeless?
The social-welfare impact that has been felt hugely by the affected communities is food insecurity. Cernea (2000) explains, “Forced uprooting increases the risk that people will fall into temporary or chronic undernourishment, defined as calorie-protein intake below the minimum necessary for normal growth and work. Food insecurity and undernourishment are both symptoms and results of inadequate resettlement. This has been, though in a different manner and intensity, the case in affected communities of the Tekeze hydropower dam.
Discussions that are made with group discussants and informants reveal that the loss of the most fertile and productive land has greatly affected the basis on which they depended for their food security. This is because the land has been the main source of survival and for the last three years they have been unable to obtain enough food as they have been deprived of working on their land and/or have not been compensated to what they have lost. As thus, it has become difficult to nourish themselves and their children. This chronic, not temporary, state of food insecurity has been actualized and materialized in the last three years and if not properly dealt with it in the near future will result in the state of increased morbidity and mortality in the affected communities.
An instance of food insecurity that has prevailed over the already impoverishing communities of the affected areas can be evidenced from the miserable life the following informant has gone through. It is presented briefly as:
I had thirty cattle and hundred fifty goats. Now I have remained bare handed. I lost my land when the diffa found in bäläqa and däbi became impounded by the dam water. I sold every property I had and now I have nothing. Now I lead my life using sharecropping and I also get support from the government through the safety Net Program (Abtew Tebeje, from bäläqa kebele (February 8, 2010).
The above recitation of the bleak life situation that has engulfed the affected communities can clearly show how the loss of the diffa has made the people too vulnerable to food insecurity and how they have found themselves dragged into the process of undernourishment. This diffa caused food insecurity has further been exacerbated by the sort of disorder that has characterized the cattle economy of the affected communities. It has repeatedly been argued that on equal basis to the farming economy the cattle economy has been at the center of the production economy and means of survival of the affected communities. The cattle economy provides a means of ensuring food security for the people living in the Tekeze bounded areas. For example, it serves as the major source of, for instance, milk and milk products which have been part of the dietary system of the Tekeze people. But this benefit derived from the cattle economy is bit by bit evaporating from the homes of the Tekeze farmers. The level of food insecurity has taken a new turn in the last three or two years as the concerned bodies due to different complications have failed to deliver the compensation timely. Had the compensation been delivered, though the writer does not believe it to be a permanent solution to the situation of food insecurity if carried out from the point of mere economic points, then there would have been chance for the affected communities to at least espouse mechanisms by which they could establish a better reconstructed and reorganized life.
People of the affected communities continued to grieve not only over the inability of the government and the project managers and the concerned bodies in the sustainable reconstruction of the lost livelihood but also over the reluctance and utter neglect of the government to provide the people with the necessary immediate solutions. There seems downright dearth of development aid in terms of food materials and other related ones to the affected communities.
The following excerpt from the data tapped from an informant shows the complete absence of any aid which targets the affected communities by the Tekeze Dam.
There may be Zonal or Woräda aid program delivered to some poor people. For example, emergency aid and safetyNet programs have been effected for long at Zonal and Woräda levels. There has been no aid delivered to the people of the Tekeze Dam affected communities under the name of the dam’s development program. The safety Net program has been introduced and its fifteen kilos cereal aid has been delivered to those who are consi
Development discourse and literature in Ethiopia since the 1940s has been part of Ethiopian academic endeavor. Several development projects with their plus- and down sides have been put in place in the country during this period.
Especially since the 1960s in the drive to realize sustainable generation of electrical power, not few dams have been constructed in Ethiopia. When such dams have been constructed, more often than not special attention was layered on the engineering and cost feasibility of the projects. The impacts the dams would have on the social and economic lives of the local population where the dams have to be constructed have not been threaded into the planning, designing and implementation of such dam development projects. That is, social and economic costs were and are still considered second to the engineering costs of the dams. Added to such lack of commitment on the part of the project owners to deal with the social and economic costs of the dam on the affected population, the very problem of budget constraint also places its huge deterring role on the successful implementation of a dam on time. Such delay of project implementation carries its toll to the local population. The Tekeze Dam is one of the dams which have manifested the above features and thus, it has made the affected local populations go through different pains. With what the dam has brought to the local population, now it is difficult to see even a single positive addition to the life of these people.
This study, by unraveling the different impacts the Tekeze Dam has entailed to the local populations, has tried to show that dams have to be first constructed by allowing greater degree of public participation. By doing so, the would-be-affected local peoples can take the necessary preparation to deal with the certain-to-happen dam development. Judging on the failure of the Tekeze dam project to accomplish this task; the local populations have been forced to go through some unnecessary avoidable economic and social circumstances.
Thus, 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.
CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
The author has not declared any conflict of interests.
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