Access the extent that mega projects are the best form of technological fix when addressing water security (15 marks)

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Kieran Podbury
St Benedicts
Access the extent that mega projects are the best form of
technological fix when addressing water security (15
Megaprojects are just one of three different types of technology that can help address the problem
of water security in the world today. Mega projects are large scale, expensive engineering projects,
opposite to intermediate technology, this is technology which is low-tech and is usually labour
intensive, but which can be mastered by the local population, this is used more in the developing
world. Lastly there is appropriate technology, this is technology which is appropriate to the level of
income, skills and needs of the local population it can be high or low tech. The essay will focus on
Ethiopia's water security, a study conducted by found that 42% of the population has
access to a clean water supply, something needs to change in the country and one of the three
types of technology above the answer.
The Tekeze Dam, which is located in Northern Ethiopia, is an example of a mega project with the
aim to aid water scarcity within Ethiopia. The dam will hold back 9 billion liters of water that will be
used to irrigate 60,000 hectares of land; the cost of the project is estimated to be at the $224
million mark. The project has been criticized for not benefiting local people, due to the top down
approach, even though 2000 people are currently being employed, these people are likely to be
low paid compared to the 500 Chinese workers. Some organizations claim that the dam
construction workers, most of whom came from South Africa and who are living in make-shift
camps, have contributed to the spread of HIV-Aids in Lesotho. The Ethiopian government also have
not rehomed the people that have been displaced by the `controlled' flooding this may be due to
the high level of corruption within the country with a key official on the project Masupha Sole,
being convicted of corruption after he was found guilty of awarding international companies with
contracts in return for bribe money. Those companies too were also tried in court. There is also the
issue of maintenance when the project is completed this is likely to be completed by large TNCs not
benefiting the local population at all. However all these social cost could be argued are minimal
compared the amount o water and energy that the damn will supply.
Water catchment pits used by farmers in the TIgay region is an example of appropriate technology.
Digging the pits will catch water run off, the regional government who give a loans to help complete
the pit outlined they store 60 meters cubed of rainfall. This will help him during the summer
months if rains fail. This scheme unlike the mega project outlined above doe at least help towards
the water problems in rural Ethiopia. However the pits have been linked with the increased level of
malaria in rural locations, the pits act as breeding grounds. The scheme also requires farmers to
take out a loan, a huge risk for a subsistence farmer. Lifestaws is a technology that enables people
to drink polluted water; the technology within the straw kills the bacteria in the water making it
safe to drink. The straw costs only $3 per head per year, making it easily assessable. This has led to
major improvements in the standard of health in countries such as Kenya where the Kenya Red
Cross supplied filters to 3,750 school children and 6,750 households. The technology can make the
smallest bit of water drinkable; I believe this is a key technology that needs to be invested. One
criticism of the product is the fact that the iodine levels are very high however the developers state
that this isn't necessarily a bad thing as many people within LICs in Africa are malnourished in
iodine. Ethiopia has 12 river basins with an annual runoff volume of 122 billion m3 of water and an

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Kieran Podbury
St Benedicts
estimated 2.6 - 6.5 billion m3 of ground water potential, this is all water that with the life straw can
be drinkable and safe.
The Relief Society in Tigray believe that water insecurity could be solved by building thousands of
small damns, this is a form of intermediate technology. These damns will be more targeted than the
Tekeze damn that I have criticized above; the society provided the recourses the people provided
labour, a bottom up approach.…read more


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