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Monday, December 05, 2005

Dam with Capacity to Develop 60,000 Hectares Under Construction in Afar

Walta Information -- The construction of the Tendaho Dam and Irrigation Project, which has a capacity to develop 60,000 hectares of land, is reportedly underway near Logia town, Afar state.

Manager of the Tendaho Dam and Irrigation Project with the Water Works Design and Control Enterprise, Bizuneh Sima told WIC recently that the dam under construction along the Awash River has the capacity to hold 1.86 billion cubic meters water.

The 64kms drainage construction to be carried out under the project would be used to establish sugarcane plantations near the Dubti and Asayta towns, he said, adding that the digging of 247kms by 6 meters water diversion tunnel has so far been finalized, while reinforcement is underway.

He also said a huge sugar factory which would process the sugarcane to be cultivated in the area will be constructed in Asayita town, the capital of Afar state.

The 150 hectares sugarcane plantation will also be expanded on 1,500 hectares of land, the manager said ,adding that utmost care would be taken to preserve the ecological balance of the area in undertaking the dam.

According to him, the dam will be ready to carry water in the coming rainy season.

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Previous Post: The Destruction of the Blue Nile Falls


Photo Courtesy: MSNBC.com

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According to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature, dams can destroy wetlands, which hold water like sponges and cannot be replicated by manmade storage facilities... Dams flood valleys, destroy fisheries and are threatening endangered species such as the Iberian lynx and jaguars, whose natural habitats in valleys can end up under water. SEE the complete report.
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An Interesting Flora Finds Itself in the Awash Basin...

The Murulle Foundation
-- According to the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization, Ethiopia's number one, priority invasive seed is Prosopis juliflora, otherwise known as mesquite. Native to Mexico and Centrala and South America, mesquite was intentionally introduced to the Awash Basin in the 1970s and 1980s as an agroforestry species; it had a reputation as a tree that could grow anywhere. Indeed, since then the tree has invaded pastoral areas, displacing native trees, forming impenetrable thickets (the thorns will punch through the soles of shoes), and reducing grazing potential.

The major conflict in Ethiopia is over whether to control the plant through eradication or utilization. In an artilce published in the Journal of Arid Environments, researchers identified several characteristics of mesquite that will make it diffcult to eradicate. Primarily, mesquite has a "remarkable copicing ability." Chopping down the tree merely stimulates aggressive re-growth from the damaged stumps. In addition, its fleshy, sweet pods are sought after by domestic and wild animals. The seeds survive passage through the animals' digestive tracts and are then distributed across the countryside. Researchers found that, of the animals studied, cattle are the major dispersers of seeds followed by warthogs, camels, and goats. Finally, the small, hard seeds are long-lived, remaining viable in the seed bed for many years. According to an article in the Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, mesquite seeds will even prevent the germination of other native Prosopis plants.

Although it has taken over areas where it was introduced, mesquite is a useful species; it provides shelter, building materials, shade, and it can be used as firewood and charcoal. As an alternative to eradication, the government is investigating alternatives to control the spread of mesquite through utilization. The Afar regional government has bought four machines to crush mesquite pods, which will reduce the number of viable seeds. The activity will also create protein-rich feed for cattle that can be sold by pastoralists. Additionally, the Afar regional government and Farm Africa are working to turn a profit from the tree by marketing the wood as high-quality flooring. The government has also allowed a charcoal association (illegal in most of Ethiopia) to open in the Middle Awash Valley where mesquite is most abundant.

Mesquite infestation
Mesquite infestation in Ethiopia (photo courtesty: Oxfam CAA)

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