The large centralized hydropower dams the government is building lack the extensive distribution lines needed to reach the country’s rural population, where only 2% have access to electricity.
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Ethiopia has huge hydropower potential, and the Ethiopian government is thinking big: it contends that large dams are critical for ending its poverty. But most development analysts believe the rural poor need smaller-scale water projects more suited to meeting their immediate needs. Water for irrigation from large reservoirs is mostly earmarked for large-scale agricultural producers. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s small farmers cannot store seasonal rainfall needed for raising food.

International Rivers is monitoring dam planning in Ethiopia, working to keep international donors from investing in the worst projects on the drawing boards, and sharing knowledge about better alternatives and the legacy of Ethiopia's past dams with local and international civil society.

Donate now to help International Rivers advocate for safe, smart decision-making about dam construction in Ethiopia.

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