Ethiopia has a potential of producing more than 43,000 megawatts (MW) electricity from hydropower, wind, solar and thermal energies. This electricity can supply power to more than two-thirds of Africa, half of the Middle East and southern European countries.
On the other hand, more than 90 percent of the Ethiopian population is dependent on firewood and charcoal for cooking and kerosene for light. Deforestation forces women and children to travel farther to gather firewood taking up their valuable time that could be used for more productive pursuits.
Currently, Ethiopia managed to produce nearly 2,000 MW electric power from hydro and wind power with a financial loan from international lenders and by its own resource. Additional 8,000 MW electric power is expected to be produced by the end of 2017, according to Ethiopian government plan. Of this additional power, the 6,000 MW will be produced from a dam that is under construction on the Blue Nile river near to the Ethio-Sudan boarder.
Since 1927, Ethiopian governments conducted feasibility studies to construct dams on Blue Nile to produce electricity and boost its power supply. But not until 2011, was it possible to realize this big dream because international moneylenders were not willing to finance these projects.
In May 2011, the late Prime Minister H.E. Meles Zenawi, called all Ethiopian nationals to contribute money to construct a dam on Blue Nile river that could produce 6,000 MW electricity power. The project is estimated to cost $4 billion (USD) and it is also believed that Ethiopian people and government will cover it. Now the construction of the dam is under way and one-third of it is completed.
Food for the Hungry’s (FH) Ethiopian national staff responded enthusiastically to this national call for united action by believing this mega project will make a major contribution to country’s poverty reduction efforts. As a result of this mega project, rural children and women will access clean energy in their homes, so they can focus on more productive activities.
In two rounds of mobilizing support, FH/Ethiopia national staff raised nearly $50,000 (USD) from their salaries and bought Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) bonds. FH/Ethiopia is the first known international non-government organization (NGO) to mobilize its staff for such large scale bond purchases.
Also, from June 20 – 24, more than 60 staff representing more than 400 FH national staff traveled more than 450 miles to witness the GERD construction site first hand. Tom LePage, FH/Ethiopia Country Director, told Simegnew Bekele, GERD Project Manager, that FH/Ethiopia staff’s personal money contribution to buy GERD Bonds and the field visit to the dam is an expression of FH’s solidarity with the national poverty reduction efforts and with the future wellbeing of Ethiopian children.
While Food for the Hungry continues its own projects to help children, families and communities to overcome poverty in Ethiopia, joining these national efforts is part of FH’s collaborative work for ending poverty.