Constructing a new water future?

An analysis of Ethiopia’s current hydropower development

Authored by: Nathanial Matthews , Alan Nicol , Wondwosen Michago Seide

Handbook of Land and Water Grabs in Africa

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  September  2012

Print ISBN: 9781857436693
eBook ISBN: 9780203110942
Adobe ISBN:


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Ethiopia’s economy and population are growing rapidly. 1 From 1990 to 2010 Ethiopia’s population more than doubled from 48 million to 83 million (UNDESA 2010) and during this period surpassed Egypt’s to become, after Nigeria, Africa’s second most populous country. This rapid increase – notwithstanding the economic growth that is being achieved – is adding pressure to an already rainfall-dependent, largely agricultural economy, and to the unique biodiversity of Ethiopia that supports 280 types of mammal, 861 birds, 201 reptiles, and more than 6,000 plants (Jacobs and Schloeder 2001). The agro-ecology of Ethiopia from highland farming to lowland livestock production, on which much of the economy and population depend, will be challenged in future by current population and economic growth projections. Can these natural resources reservoirs sustain such levels of growth, particularly in light of future climate change impacts? These challenges form part of the justification for the government’s refashion-ing of the economy.

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