Lake Turkana Dam: Testing a Lake’s Limit

Lake Turkana Dam: Testing a Lake’s Limit

This is an educator idea for teaching about the current controversy over the Gilgel Gibe III, a hydroelectric power plant the Ethiopian government is constructing on the Lower Oma Valley of the Turkana River. The dam is predicted to double the electrical output of Ethiopia but devastate the lives and livelihoods of thousands of indigenous people in Kenya who depend on the Turkana River for survival.


5 - 8


Conservation, Engineering, Geography

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Morgan Stanley

Idea for Use in the Classroom

Visible on this map in the top-right-hand side, the Gilgel Gibe III is a controversial hydroelectric dam currently under development in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government is using the land in the Lower Omo Valley to expand a system of hydroelectric power plants that will double the country’s electricity output and supply water for industrial farming. Use this map to show students the areas of development and how the dam would help the expansion of sugar cultivation.

Next, have students use the map to predict the impacts of the dam on the people in Kenya. (Note the cities that lie on the lake, the national parks, and the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project.) Explain the controversy to students. The Lower Omo Valley is culturally and biologically diverse and home to thousands of indigenous people. Construction of the dam will deny water to the locals who depend on Lake Turkana for survival. To complete the dam and the accompanying irrigation projects, the development plan involves forcibly removing these people from their homes. Using the resources listed in the list of resources at the bottom of this page, create a table with two columns and list the pros and cons of the dam’s development. As an extension activity, have students research the culture of the people affected by the project.

Media Credits

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Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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