Archive for the 'NWNL–Omo River Basin' Category

World Conservation Day 2017

December 5, 2017

In honor of World Conservation Day, NWNL wants to share some of it’s favorite photographs from over the years of each of our case-study watersheds.

Trout Lake in the Columbia River Basin
Jones_070630_WA_5507

 

Aerial view of the largest tributary of the Lower Omo River
Ethiopia: aerial of Mago River, largest tributary of Lower Omo River

 

Canoeing on the Mississippi River
Jones_140920_LA_3950-2

 

Fisherman with his canoe on the shore of Lake Tana, source of the Nile River
Ethiopia: Lake Tana, source of the blue Nile, fisherman and canoe on the shore.

 

Wildebeests migrating toward water in the Mara Conservancy
K-WIB-410.tif

 

Raritan River at sunset
Jones_090515_NJ_4585

 

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

Oh, dam!

November 1, 2017

What Is A Dam? A dam is a structure, often quite large, built across a river to retain its flow of water in a reservoir for various purposes, most commonly hydropower.  In the U.S. there are over 90,000 dams over 6 feet tall, according to American Rivers.  In 2015 half of Earth’s major rivers contained around 57,000 large dams, according to International Rivers.  Dams are complicated. This blog presents a look at some of the benefits, consequences and impacts of dams, along with NWNL photographs of  North American and African dams in our case-study  watersheds.

BC: Waneta, Columbia River Basin, Waneta Dam on Pend d'Oreille RiverDanger sign at the Waneta Dam in the Columbia River Basin (2007)
Jones_111022_LA_2865Atchafalaya Old River Low Sill Control Structure, Louisiana (2011)

The slowing or diversion of river flows caused by dams – and related “control structures” – can have severe environmental impacts. Many species that reside in rivers rely on a steady flow for migration, spawning and healthy habitats. Altered river flows can disorient migrating fish and disrupt reproduction cycles needing natural seasonal flows.

US: Washington, Columbia River Basin, aerial views of Chief Joseph Dam
Jones_070622_WA_4119Aerial views of Chief Joseph Dam in the Columbia River Basin (2007)

The introduction of a dam into a river creates a reservoir by halting a river’s flow. This can severely impact the quality of water. Still water can cause water temperatures to increase. Resulting abnormal temperatures can negatively affect species; cause algae blooms; and decrease oxygen levels.

Jones_070628_OR_5171_MJuvenile fish bypass at the McNary Dam in the Columbia River Basin (2007)
Ethiopia: aerial of Omo River, construction site of Gibe Dam IIIAerial view of the construction site of Gibe III Dam in the Omo River (2007)

Bryan Jones, featured in Patagonia’s documentary “Dam Nation,” discussed today’s situation with four aging dams on the Lower Snake River (authorized in 1945) in his 2014 NWNL Interview:  “We used science then available to conquer and divide our river systems with dams. But today we can look at them and say, ‘Well-intentioned, but it didn’t really work out the way we would’ve liked it to.'”  Dams that may have been beneficial at one point in history must be constantly reassessed and taken down when necessary to restore river and riparian ecosystems and species. Some compare dams to humans, since they too have a limited life span of about 70-100 years.

Jones_100413_UG_9603Small dam across the White Nile River in Uganda (2010)
East AFrica: Uganda, JingaConstruction of the Bujagali Dam on the White Nile River in Uganda (2010)

There are well-intended reasons to build dams.  In the US, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has listed the values of dams on their website.  Those benefits  include recreation, flood control, water storage, electrical generation and debris control. These benefits are explained on the FEMA website.

USA: Alabama, Tennessee River Basin, Guntersville Dam (TVA)Danger sign at the Guntersville Dam, Tennessee River Basin (2013)
Jones_150817_CA_5888Parker Dam (a hydrodam) on the Colorado River, Southern California (2015)

Between 1998 and 2000, the World Commission on Dams (WCD) established the most comprehensive guidelines for dam building, reviewing 1,000 dams in 79 countries in two years. Their framework  for decision-making is based on recognizing rights of all interested parties and assessing risks.  Later, the European Union adopted this framework, stating that carbon credits from large dams can only be sold on the European market if the project complies with the WCD framework.

Many conflicts swirl around the impacts, longevity and usefulness of dams.  NWNL continues to study dam benefits versus their impacts, including removal of indigenous residents in order to establish reservoirs;  disruption of the downstream water rights and needs of people, species and ecosystems; and relative efficiencies of hydropower versus solar and wind.  Dam-building creates consequences.  Native Americans studied risks of their decisions for seven generations.  After the Fukushima tsunami caused the release of radioactive material, Japanese novelist Kazumi Saeki wrote:  “People have acquired a desire for technology that surpasses human comprehension.  Yet the bill that has come due for that desire is all too dear.”

Sources and resources for more information:

American Rivers, How Dams Damage Rivers

International Rivers, Environmental Impacts of Dams

International Rivers, Problems with Big Dams

International Rivers, The World Commission on Dams Framework – A Brief Introduction

FEMA, Benefits of Dams

National Hydropower Association, Why Hydro

NWNL, Interview with Bryan L. Jones

New York Times, Kazumi Saeki, In Japan, No Time Yet for Grief

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

Floods: A Photo Essay

September 11, 2017

In honor of those devastated by the recent flooding all over the world, including Texas and Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa and across Southeast Asia, NWNL takes a look at photos from our archives of flooding in our case study watersheds.

Columbia River Basin

Jones_070607_BCa_0058In British Columbia, Columbia River flooding from melting snow pack and storms, threatens barns and farmlands.  (2007)

Jones_070607_BC_1989Barn and truck underwater in British Columbia from Columbia River flooding due to melting snow pack and storms.  (2007)

 

Mississippi River Basin

MO-STG-411Mississippi River flood of 1993, St Genevieve, Missouri.

USA:  Missouri, West Alton, road flooded in the Mississippi River flood of 1993Road flooded in West Alton, Missouri during the Mississippi River flood of 1993.

 

Raritan River Basin

Jones_110311_NJ_7383 A submerged park bench during the spring floods in Clinton, New Jersey, part of the South Branch of the Raritan River Basin. (2011)

Jones_110311_NJ_7451 Hamden Road flooded near Melick’s bridge in Clinton, New Jersey, part of the South Branch of the Raritan River Basin. (2011)

 

Omo River Basin

Jones_070919_ET_0261_MDassenech village, located on the Omo Delta in Ethiopia, flooded by the Omo River and polluted by livestock effluent. (2007)

Jones_070919_ET_0289_MGranary hut built on stilts on a flooded plain in the Dassenech village in Ethiopia. (2007)

 

Posted by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager.

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

Please LIKE our photo on FB in a Biodiversity Int’l photo contest!

July 22, 2015

Please LIKE our photo on FB in a Biodiversity Int’l photo contest!
It shows a reason for hope that the 300 thousand people who depend on Lake Turkana will not resort to conflict as they watch their lake disappear…

Bottle-top checkers at Kitchen Without Borders / The Omo Delta flowing into Lake Turkana

Bottle-top checkers at Kitchen Without Borders / The Omo Delta flowing into Lake Turkana

Negotiating environmental justice
Can international attention halt dam projects?
As Ethiopia’s Omo River is depleted by new dams and large ag biz, the water level of Kenya’s Lake Turkana, the river’s terminus, is under grave threat. Thus strife will increase among Lake Turkana residents, making efforts such as “Kitchen Without Borders” even more important!

In 2013, No Water No Life visited Cabesi and spoke with founder, Rolf Gloor, who said “If people can sit down to eat together, peace will come.”

Find out more
Read a recent Nat Geo article (Aug 2015) for stories about the threats to Lake Turkana, Africa’s largest desert lake.
Watch a video by International Rivers about the hydrological impacts of dam projects in the region.
CABESI is a project offering alternative livelihoods to pastoralists who find their old traditions must adapt to future needs and climatic situations.
Kitchen Without Borders encourages peaceful experiences and dialogue amongst rival tribes in conflict over water rights.

We Have the Power to Protect Lake Turkana

June 25, 2015

No Water No Life has been documenting Lake Turkana and the issue of it becoming endangered due to the threat of dam building and sugar plantations since 2003. Peter Bosshard speaks about this issue in a recent Huffington Post article, “Will the World Take Action to Stop the Destruction of a Unique Global Heritage?”

“Lake Turkana – the world’s largest desert lake – also offers water, food and livelihood to 300,000 indigenous people living in a barren environment. Yet this precious source of life is now under threat from rampant dam building and sugar plantations in neighboring Ethiopia. When the World Heritage Committee convenes for its annual meeting next week, it will need to decide whether to speak up for this unique global treasure.

Lake Turkana depends on the Omo River for 90% of its freshwater inflow. In January 2015, the Ethiopian government closed the Gibe III Dam and started filling its reservoirs. The government and private investors are also using the dam to develop huge sugar and cotton plantations along the Omo River. If the full scheme is realized, the dam and plantations will withhold and withdraw huge amounts of water from the river.”

Untitled-1

“As a consequence, the water level of Lake Turkana could drop by as much as 20 meters. A prominent Kenyan hydrologist has warned that “the result could be another Aral Sea disaster in the making.” “Once the dam is operating, everything people feed on will disappear. Starvation will take over,” said Turkana pastorialist Rebecca Arot.

We can’t stand by idly as another human-made social, environmental and cultural disaster unfolds. An online petition by International Rivers calls on the World Heritage Committee to stand up for Lake Turkana and declare it a World Heritage in Danger.”

The following video perfectly describes what Lake Turkana means to individuals of the tribe living on its shores.

Sign the petition to ask the World Heritage Committee to protect Lake Turkana here.

Full Article 

– Posted by Jenna Petrone, Assistant Office Manager

The Value of Water in a dry land – Photos from the Omo River Basin

October 24, 2014
Africa:  Kenya; Pokot Land, Orwa, CABESI Kitchen without Borders project, vegetable garden plot, seedlings

Africa: Kenya; Pokot Land, Orwa, CABESI Kitchen without Borders project, vegetable garden plot, seedlings

 

Ethiopia: Kundama Farm, a Duss tribal farming community, a 2-day-old Karo baby with its mother

Ethiopia: Kundama Farm, a Duss tribal farming community, a 2-day-old Karo baby with its mother

 

Ethiopia:  Omo Delta at low water stage, herders lead cattle to water

Ethiopia: Omo Delta at low water stage, herders lead cattle to water

 

Africa:  Kenya; Turkana Land, man pushing cart of gerry cans to be filled with water from the river outside of town

Africa: Kenya; Turkana Land, man pushing cart of gerry cans to be filled with water from the river outside of town

 

Africa:  Kenya; Karakol, dried tilapia headed to markets in Kisimu, Nairobi and elsewhere

Africa: Kenya; Karakol, dried tilapia headed to markets in Kisimu, Nairobi and elsewhere

 

Ethiopia:  Omo Delta, Dassenech village of Ilokelete, in low water season, woman carrying fodder for goats

Ethiopia: Omo Delta, Dassenech village of Ilokelete, in low water season, woman carrying fodder for goats

 

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Charcoal burning destroys Kenya’s forests

September 5, 2014

 

Africa:  Kenya; North Rift District, Turkana Land, bags of charcoal for sale

Africa: Kenya; North Rift District, bags of charcoal for sale

How many trees are cut down to make one bag of charcoal? This illegal trade destroys endangered animals natural habitat and puts pressure on the entire ecosystem.

Fact – In Kenya, charcoal provides energy for 82% of urban and 34% of rural households. Source: http://asokoinsight.com/news/illegal-logging-charcoal-burning-destroying-east-africas-forests/

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

I dream of rain, I dream of gardens in the desert sand – Desert Rose

July 25, 2014
Ethiopia, Omo River Valley, view of Omo River with desert rose

Ethiopia, Omo River Valley, view of Omo River with desert rose

“Water is the true wealth in a dry land.”

–U.S. author Wallance Stegner, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian

The Desert Rose is not a real rose, or a member of the rosaceae family, but a spectacular succulent! It is sometimes called the Elephant’s Foot because its trunks swell to store water from summer rains to last thru the long dry winters.

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

On the banks of the Omo River

June 11, 2014
Ethiopia:  Omo River Basin, Karo tribal farm (with irrigation) called Kundama, young girl displaying 3 catfish just caught, standing against field of sorghum

Ethiopia: Omo River Basin, Karo tribal farm (with irrigation) called Kundama, young girl displaying 3 catfish just caught, standing against field of sorghum

Ethiopia:  Lower Omo River Basin, Lebuk, a Karo village, dance ceremony

Ethiopia: Lower Omo River Basin, Lebuk, a Karo village, dance ceremony

Ethiopia: Omo Valley, Karo painting, bird's eye view of Omo River, trees, snake, chicken, jug of water

Ethiopia: Omo Valley, Karo painting, bird’s eye view of Omo River, trees, snake, chicken, jug of water

These photos were selected in response to a weekly photo challenge – the theme is HAPPY.

Click here to view more images of Omo Valley cultures in Ethiopia.

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

March 5, 2014

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” ― Wendell Berry

Read a related article: The Race to Save Ethiopians Damned by the Dam, by Al Mariam  

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

%d bloggers like this: