The Omo river flows from southern Ethiopia all the way to Lake Tarkana in Kenya. The Ethiopian government is building a dam to generate electricity for its country and to sell abroad. Hydroelectric dams generate electricity by using falling water to turn a turbine in an electric generator to produce electricity. The project has divided Ethiopians and environmentalists around the world.
The dam–which would be the second largest in Africa–would provide much needed electricity to run the developing countries of Africa. However, critics contend that it would displace farmers who have traditionally planted on the flood planes around the river, and damage Lake Tarkana, which about 300,000 people rely upon.
A large number of environmental groups have aligned to try to stop the development of the dam.
1. How do you balance the completing values of economic development and environmental protection? Of energy generation and preservation of individual homes and lifestyles?
2. What if someone came to your neighborhood, and said that for the good of everyone in the region, you and all your neighbors had to give up your houses and move? Would it make a difference if you were compensated? What if your family had lived in the same area for generations?
3. Under what conditions do you feel the exercise of eminent domain is permissible?
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