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The Omo River (also called Omo-Bottego) in southern Ethiopia is the largest Ethiopian river outside the Nile Basin. Its course is entirely contained within the boundaries of Ethiopia, and it empties into Lake Turkana on the border with Kenya. The river is the principal stream of an endorheic drainage basin, the Turkana Basin.

The Gibe III Hydroelectric dam is a 243 m high roller-compacted concrete dam with an associated hydropower plant on the Omo River in Ethiopia. It is the largest hydropower plant in Ethiopia with a power output of about 1870 Megawatt (MW), thus more than doubling total installed capacity in Ethiopia from its 2007 level of 814 MW.[8][9] A controversy has ensued over its construction, with several NGOs forming a campaign to oppose it. According to Terri Hathaway, director of International Rivers' Africa programme, Gibe III is "the most destructive dam under construction in Africa." The project would condemn "half a million of the region's most vulnerable people to hunger and conflict."[10] A group of international campaigners launched an online petition against Ethiopia's dam project over human rights concerns.[11][12]

However, Azeb Asnake, project manager of Gibe III for the government power provider, said that a mitigation measure has been prepared in case something happens. Apart from this, Asnake predicted no adverse consequence from the project, adding that more than half of the people that live in the area are dependent on food aid and that the new station is necessary as currently the corporation is only supplying power for 25 per cent of the population.However, Azeb Asnake, project manager of Gibe III for the government power provider, said that a mitigation measure has been prepared in case something happens. Apart from this, Asnake predicted no adverse consequence from the project, adding that more than half of the people that live in the area are dependent on food aid and that the new station is necessary as currently the corporation is only supplying power for 25 per cent of the population.[13]

Heavy rains in 2006 caused the Omo to flood its lower course, drowning at least 456 people and stranding over 20,000 people over the space of five days ending 16 August. While seasonal heavy rains are normal for this part of the country, overgrazing and deforestation are blamed for this tragedy. "The rivers in Ethiopia have less capacity to hold as much water as they did years before, because they are being filled up with silt," World Food Programme spokeswoman Paulette Jones said. "It takes less intensity of rainfall ... to make a river in any particular part of the country overflow."[14] The seasonal flooding of the Omo River is vital to the indigenous groups that live along it. The flood brings fertile silt and inundates the banks with water, making river bank cultivation possible. The diverse peoples along the lower Omo—which include the Turkana, Dassanach, Hamer, Nyangatom, Karo, Kwegu, Mursi, Bodi, and Me'en—derive a great portion of their food supply from flood retreat cultivation.[15]

The large and destructive flood of 2006 is the only one that has occurred within the past fifty years. The recent drop in the level of Lake Turkana, which is generally recognized to receive about ninety percent of its waters from the Omo River's inflow, has already caused a rise in salinity level. The inc

The large and destructive flood of 2006 is the only one that has occurred within the past fifty years. The recent drop in the level of Lake Turkana, which is generally recognized to receive about ninety percent of its waters from the Omo River's inflow, has already caused a rise in salinity level. The increased size of the delta, now about 1,300 square kilometres (500 sq mi) in extent, has provided lands for recessional cultivation and pasture for cattle and other domestic livestock of the pastoralists and agro-pastoralists indigenous to the lower Omo basin.[citation needed]