Corbetti Geothermal Project
The Corbetti Caldera Geothermal Project is located in Oromia Province, Ethiopia and is supported by the U.S. “Power Africa” initiative; a consortium of 12 U.S. agencies, World Bank, African Development Bank, Sweden, host governments, and 100 private sector partners. Reykjavik Geothermal (RG), a US-Icelandic company, will manage the project. In 2012, RG completed an ESIA which was approved by the Ministry of Mines. RG aims to generate 500 MW by 2018, the remainder coming online by 2023, and with a projected total cost of $4 billion.
SALIENT SOCIAL RISKS
1. Ethiopian Government’s History of Human Rights Abuses
- See negative history associated with Ethiopia’s Resettlement Program: “Villagization” of Gambella.
- Current allegations of systemic human rights abuses against the Oromo ethnic group (see maps and news feeds below).
- At the time, most aid to Ethiopia came from Promotion of Basic Services (PBS), a World Bank managed multi-donor fund, and the British Department for International Development (DfID) was the largest contributor. Both organizations were accused of facilitating human rights abuses.
- Current reports of security forces (military, and federal and regional police) killing hundreds and arresting thousands.
- Potential complicity issues if government uses same approach with resettlement and conflict resolution surrounding Corbetti.
ASSOCIATED RISKS: COMPLICITY IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND NGO/MEDIA SCRUTINY.
2. Oromia: Ethnic Identity and Land Use Conflicts
- Corbetti is in the Oromia region, home to the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.
- Local residents of the Corbetti Caldera are Oromo and Sidama. The Oromo have a long history of conflict with successive Ethiopian governments.
- Conflict between the Ethiopian Government and Oromo nationals has been increasing at an alarming rate since November 2015 with significant media and NGO scrutiny now being devoted to this issue (see maps and news feeds below).
ASSOCIATED RISKS: CONFLICT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES; NGO/MEDIA SCRUTINY; AND IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.
3. Community Resettlement and Land Tenure
- The project site includes the small village of Corbetti and several dispersed villages and smallholdings within the project site.
- Some resettlement will be necessary.
- This resettlement will take place in an environment where land based issues and resettlement is causing significant conflict.
- For other large-scale development projects, we have seen reports of the Ethiopian government expropriating property from its citizenry and forcibly resettling communities over their protest (some of which has historically been violent).
- Potential Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) under international law?
- Informed consent to resettle?
- Adequate resettlement compensation?
- Adequate resettlement location (far from existing family and social structures and without access to schools, clinics, etc.)?
ASSOCIATED RISKS: SECURITY FORCES AND HUMAN RIGHTS; COMPLICITY IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES; CONFLICT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES; AND LAND TENURE.
4. Community Expectations
- Based upon media reports, local residents’ primary hope for the geothermal project is better access to water. This expectation is consistent with the water stress map below.
- Residents also want roads, good jobs, and electricity.
- Associated issues include: (1) geothermal water usage, (2) local procurement; (2) local jobs, and (4) local content requirements.
- Equal distribution of benefits between ethnic groups, villages, and communities.
ASSOCIATED RISKS: CONFLICT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND WATER/WASTE ISSUES.
KEY RISK AREAS:
NGO/MEDIA SCRUTINY; CONFLICT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES; LAND TENURE; SECURITY FORCES AND HUMAN RIGHTS; COMPLICITY IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES; and WATER/WASTE ISSUES